Our granddaughter is funny, kind, wants to be a princess and loves to play with her sister; and also happens to have a peanut/tree nut food allergy. While this is the first on our minds, Mia strives to be a normal five-year-old. Since her first reaction to ice cream at 15 months old, she has carried epi-pens.
It is a medical mystery why 15 million adults and children have a life threatening food allergy. The number of children affected is growing at an alarming rate. There are at least two in every classroom that have an allergy to the top eight allergens. Ninety per cent of children have the peanut/tree nut allergy and reading labels is crucial to their safety.
Most adults have never heard of food allergy unless they have a family member diagnosed with it. This is not an intolerance to food, this is a condition that when an allergen is eaten, or sometimes placed on the skin, causes anaphylaxis; the throat to swell so the child stops breathing. It is real ... and it is very scary.
Living with a food allergy can be managed, but it is not easy. Mia cannot eat in restaurants and attending school is a constant concern. This is life changing for millions of families that want to keep their children safe.
Yes, living with a constant threat to her life is a big responsibility for a five-year-old to carry on her small shoulders, and she carries it well. But, she will never carry that weight alone. Her parents, sister, grandparents and other understanding family members will carry it too. And just by reading this, you too have lightened the load.
For more information: www.FARE.org.
Tim and Diana Friedt