When Mason was diagnosed with food allergies, I spent a long time researching and reaching out to other allergy parents for information. It's a pretty scary diagnosis, and it never really feels like I have a handle on it, because theories change, research is being done, products change . . . finding support is so key to keeping sane!
I came across No Nuts Moms Group on Facebook and found so much great information. Though it's American-based, the group is chock full of fantastic information and supportive members, each dealing with different food allergies (though most have peanut and nut allergies). I really enjoy the (calm, reasonable, balanced) dialogue there, and reached out to founder Lisa Rutter on a number of occasions for information, and to ask her if the group would benefit from any of the pieces I write here.
In addition to the NNMG Facebook group, there are also numerous local support groups across the U.S. for families with food allergies, all of which can be found on the NNMG website. Wouldn't it be great to have more of this kind of thing in Canada? I think so!
I'm pleased to have interviewed Lisa about her role in No Nuts Moms Group, and I'm even happier there are people like her out there advocating for those with food allergies. Thanks for everything you do, Lisa!
How did No Nuts Moms Group come to be?
When my son was diagnosed with life threatening food allergies, I immediately tried to reach out to anyone in my area dealing with the same type of food allergies. Fortunately, I was able to find a local support group called FACES of Michigan, but I also wanted to find other moms and children in my area that my son and I could relate to. Play dates became a scary place and meeting other moms that didn't have children with food allergies was very hard and uncomfortable. I searched online for food allergy play groups and my search ended in a dead end, so this is when I started No Nuts Moms Group.
What's your personal connection to the allergy community?
My son was diagnosed with food allergies to peanuts and tree-nuts at 3 years old. I started the group because I know how lonely and scary it can be.
What are five of your go-to allergy resource pages for parents?
Is your Facebook group appropriate for those outside the U.S.?
Absolutely! I post stories and news from all over the world.
What is the most rewarding part of running NNMG?
Seeing how much the group has helped and connected so many families from all over.
What's the one thing you'd like to communicate to the world about living with food allergies?
Food allergies can be life threatening and should be taken seriously. Reactions can be unpredictable and may vary each and every time. We cannot go by past reactions as a predicator of future reactions. A person can have mild reactions for years and then have a serious reaction known as anaphylaxis. People shouldn't live in fear because food allergies can be very manageable, but we all need to educate ourselves as much as we can on food allergies. We can all live a happy and full life with food allergies, but we need to arm ourselves with all of the tools and knowledge that we can. "Be prepared, not scared."
What's your biggest frustration as an allergy parent?
I would have to say that dealing with food celebrations at school and after school activities while trying to keep my child safe and included would be one of the biggest frustrations that I have faced. Thankfully, my son's school is very open and willing to work with us.
How can people get involved with NNMG?
Getting involved is so easy. I recommend following us on Facebook and also joining one of our local NNMGs. If there isn't a local group in your area, then we have a Support Group and Forum on Facebook for people from all over with all kinds of allergies.
Rosa Silk knows all too well just how deadly those teen-friendly body sprays can be. In Allergic Living's Story of the Month, Silk discusses her son Brandon's severe allergy to the chemicals in sprays like Axe Body Spray. He suffers breathing difficulties, hives, stomach pains and blurred vision when exposed to these chemicals, making something as simple as attending school a life-threatening event. Ever since Brandon suffered an anaphylactic reaction as a result of exposure to Axe Body Spray, Silk has worked hard to get the word out about these allergies. She's not alone, either. Scent allergies are not that uncommon. The Scented Products Education and Information Association of Canada exists to warn people about such allergies, and warn against the negative effects of fragrances in household products and skincare. They "disseminate information and provide public education about scented products including fine fragrances, cosmetics, toiletries and scented household products," because do we really know the chemicals we're inhaling? The answer is absolutely not, and Silk knows this better than anyone.
When trying to narrow down the exact chemicals that triggered her son's reactions, Silk was informed that the ingredient list of Axe Body Sprays are proprietary to the manufacturer, leaving her in the dark about what exactly is a threat to her child. Not only are many of the chemicals in our products poisonous, they're of immediate danger to people like Brandon who suffered an anaphylactic reaction. At what point do concerns of the consumers outweigh the privacy of ingredient lists?
Have you ever smelled a perfume or cologne and gotten an immediate headache? Does the smell of a cleaning product make you nauseous? Have you ever taken a sniff of a product and started sneezing? All these are (albeit fairly mild) signs of reactions to scents. Be aware! Scent allergies are, at best, frustrating and sickening to those who suffer from them, and at worst, they are deadly. They're nothing to be taken lightly. So how can you help?
Implement a scent-free policy for your workplace or school.
Educate others on the chemicals that cause these problems.
Adhere to the policies that limit scent by not wearing perfumes, etc. in public.
You can follow along with Silk's journey to protect her son on Twitter.
Read this post to find out how to avoid the chemicals in household fragrance sprays.
The allergy world is a-buzz with news of a hypoallergenic peanut being developed by some researchers at North Carolina's Agricultural and Technical State University. To me, this means nothing but trouble. I am left with nothing but bothersome questions about why something like this is being done, how this could ever be considered safe, and why there's money being poured into studies like this when there are clearly far more important areas to focus upon.
Those involved in the project have demonstrated that their process eliminates the potential allergen by approximately 98%, but 98% is 2% too far to ever be considered an option for the peanut allergic folks. Even trace amounts of an allergen can be deadly. And what about wider use? The hypoallergenic peanuts look and taste exactly like the run-of-the-mill peanut, so how could this ever be safe on a large scale?
"Treated peanuts can be used as whole peanuts, in pieces or as flour to make foods containing peanuts safer for many people who are allergic," stated lead researcher Jianmei Yu. But no, this is absolutely not the case at all. With a margin of error of 2%, these "hypoallergenic" peanuts are absolutely not safe, and advertising them as such is so dangerous to allergic people and so detrimental to the message those of us in the allergy community try so hard to communicate.
Absolutely no amount of allergen is safe for an allergic person. None. No confusion, no margin of error. To me, this study (at least at its current state) is unsafe, and I think it's negligent to promote it.
Peanut-allergic patients have a wide variety of replacement options available to them (assuming they're not allergic to those, too). There is no need for them to have a "hypoallergenic" peanut. Absolutely none.
Dr. Ruchi Gupta, author of The Food Allergy Experience, also warns against this "new" peanut, saying, "Even a small amount of the allergenic proteins in peanuts can cause very severe allergic reactions," indicating that the product should absolutely not be praised.
What do you think about this new "hypoallergenic" peanut?
What is it like to live with severe allergies? Five moms open up about what it’s like to raise a child with life-threatening food allergies.
From what to do in an emergency to the questions you need to ask your doctor—check out our Parents' Guide to Dealing with Kids with Severe Allergies for everything you need to know about life-threatening allergies.