Giovanni Cipriano died in 2013 from anaphylaxis. He ate peanuts, to which he was allergic, and died. His parents were never told to carry an epinephrine auto-injector, which is completely crazy to me. Whenever I read these stories, I get chills -- his parents knew about his allergy, yet still, he's gone.
There is a news piece circulating about his death, and another doctor's theory about why so many people have these allergies. Nothing like sensationalizing the death of a promising young teen to get the conversation started again, right? Whenever the topic of allergies comes up, inevitably there are comments along the lines of, "But the more important issue is why. Why is there an allergy epidemic." And sure, obviously that's a concern to me, too, but I feel like with each random theory tossed out there (lack of certain gut bacteria, GMOs, something the mother ate while pregnant, and now antibiotic use), we're just grasping at straws and not coming up with anything useful. We're so busy pointing fingers when we don't have much to go on in any direction yet.
I am very happy there's research being done to find out the causes of allergies. It would be ideal if nobody had to worry about death just from eating a certain food, wouldn't it? I'm glad research is being done to help those who already have these allergies, because that's what my family's priority is–to help our son cope and survive. What isn't helpful is when news is thrown out that Hey! There's a new thing to blame for these allergies, and you should all be worried now!
Microbiologist Dr. Martin Blaser from New York University points to early life antibiotic use as a potential culprit. He believes it is this usage that's diminishing gut bacteria, weakening immune systems, and making them susceptible to allergies. But I can tell you that in our case, antibiotic use doesn't fit our puzzle. Mason was born with his allergies, and was sensitive through breastmilk. So was it antibiotics I took in my early years? Am I to blame? Blaser boldly states that, "Antibiotics are not free, they do have a cost. And it is not just monetary but in the development of immunity in children."
That's a slippery slope, Dr. Blaser. To suggest that parents shouldn't be using antibiotics, when obviously they're being used to prevent infections and disease is a dangerous suggestion, I think. A more measured appproach may be to suggest lowering antibiotic use, perhaps?
I don't know why we have allergies. I don't know where to point the finger, or how to prevent future generations from having life-threatening allergies. But I do know that straw-grasping and sensationalizing the issue isn't helping at all.
To read more about how gut bacteria may help with food allergies, read here. Do you know which allergy is the most common and inaccurate drug allergy?
Fabulous news! Anaphylaxis Canada has launched a new resource to help keep those affected by serious food allergies safe in schools. The program, called Anaphylaxis in Schools: What Educators Need to Know, is the first in a series of three bilingual courses. Per their press release today:
[The program has been] developed in collaboration with Leap Learning Technologies Inc. and the Canadian Society of Allergy and Clinical Immunology. French review was provided by the Association of Allergists and Immunologists of Quebec. Additional support for research and evaluation was provided by AllerGen NCE (Allergy, Genes and Environment Network) Inc. and McMaster University. The course, which can be accessed at www.allergyaware.ca, focuses on the prevention, recognition and management of anaphylaxis.
"Having a clear understanding of the facts about anaphylaxis will help educators reduce the risk of allergic reactions in schools and know how to respond in the event of an emergency," said Laurie Harada, Executive Director of Anaphylaxis Canada. "We appreciate educators are tasked with many responsibilities so we wanted to create an easy-to-use resource that was readily available, informative and engaging. Thanks to the support of several ministries of education and health, private donors, and premier founding sponsor, TELUS, Anaphylaxis Canada is able to make this interactive learning course available for free to hundreds of thousands of staff employed by more than 15,000 public schools and thousands of private schools across the country."
I want to personally thank Telus for supporting this initiative—it means a lot when a large company puts forward money to support awareness campaigns like this, and the allergy community sure appreciates it! And even bigger thanks to Anaphylaxis Canada for everything they do!
Please spread the word about the course! Share the Allergy Aware link with your school administration, teachers, and any other educators who will find it of value!
Are food bans an effective solution in schools or are there other ways to help protect allergic students?
This mother states that her daughter's school discriminated against her daughter and failed to protect her from life-threatening allergens.
I know, it's September and that means we all need to start posting squash recipes and profess our love for all things pumpkin spice, but summer's not over yet! (Although, I'm sorry about that snow, Alberta, that totally sucks.) I'm holding on to these last couple weeks of summer by presenting to you the most amazing, delicious, drop-the-mic-awesome potato salad recipe ever. That's right, it's so good you can just drop the mic and walk off stage.
This is actually my husband's recipe, so I can't take credit for it, but I can promise you it's the best damn potato salad in the history of potato salad. Potato salad. (How many more times can I say, "potato salad"?)
Ryan even wrote it out for me, see?
6-8 medium-sized white potatoes
1/2 sweet onion, finely chopped
1 hand full of fresh cilantro, finely chopped
4-6 pickled Mexican (not Tex-Mex!) peppers, finely chopped (found in a can at the grocery store)
1-2 tbsp of brine from the pickled pepper can
mayonnaise to taste (approximately 1/3-1/2 cup)
salt to taste
Peel potatoes and dice (into approximately 1/2" cubes).
Bring a large pot of water to boil, with a few pinches of salt in the water. The potato cubes should take about 10 minutes to cook—they're ready when you can "smoosh" a cube of potato against the side of the pot with only a little resistance.
Once cooked, strain the potatoes and run them under cold water to stop them from cooking further. This is an important step, because a mooshy potato salad isn't very good.
Mix in the remaining ingredients and stir.
Optional: Some lime juice is a nice addition if you have fresh limes, and adding fresh or frozen cooked sweet corn gives a fantastic sweet crunch to the potato salad.
It's even better the next day!