If you or someone you know suffers from food allergies, you likely know that this week was Food Allergy Awareness Week. I’m not certain if food allergies are becoming more prevalent or we’re getting better at identifying them, but I definitely think that there is still much to be done in the way of awareness and education.
The Motherhood has facilitated an amazing series of talks on food allergies and I’ve been honored to participate and contribute to the discussions. As a mother to a child with food allergies, I’ve found that there much misinformation surrounding the issue. Dietitian Marion Groetch (who works at the Jaffe Food Allergy Institute at Mount Sinai School of Medicine) and Divvies owner Lori Sandler recently led a discussion about common myths surrounding food allergies. They, along with a group of bloggers, discussed those myths and provided factual information to dispel them.
In my own experience, I’ve found that people assume my son can outgrow his allergies. While my husband and I have high hopes that when we retest at 5, he’ll have outgrown some or all of his allergies, the reality is that he may not. There are many things to consider including the type of allergy, it’s severity, elimination and exposure to the allergen, and the individual. I would encourage anyone who suffers from food allergies to consult with a reputable allergist, retest when applicable, and avoid the allergens completely.
Another common myth is that allergy and intolerance are synonymous. In reality, food allergy is an adverse reaction caused by an immune response that occurs reproducibly on exposure to a given food. Intolerance is an adverse reaction to a food unmediated by the immune system (source: Marion Groetch). Thus, there is no true cure for a food allergy and avoidance is the only way to prevent allergic reactions.
Interestingly enough, I learned that the US does not mandate that all ingredients be listed on a product label. While major food allergens may not be omitted from a product label, those that are not considered major may be unidentified on product labels. There is also the potential for cross contact. It’s a good idea to read product labels each time you purchase an item to ensure product information has not changed. If you are uncertain about a potential allergen, you can always contact the company directly.
As a mother to a child suffering from food allergies, it’s important that the people around us understand the facts, particularly as it relates to his safety. I personally have had to educate friends, family members, and preschool teachers to ensure that we are all on the same page with regards to his allergies.
I encourage you to visit the series of food allergy discussions on The Motherhood for more information and resources.
No compensation was received for this post. I truly hope you find it to be useful, relevant information.