An article on HealthlineNews today announced that researchers at Johns Hopkins may have narrowed down the root cause of all environmental and food allergies. I don't usually get excited over scientific news, but this gave me goosebumps! Can you imagine, essentially find the treasure map that could lead scientists to a cure for childhood allergies?
The thought is that a signaling molecule called transforming growth factor-β (TGFβ) "kick-starts immune responses if it sends signals incorrectly." In theory, correcting that wrong signal could basically cure someone of allergies. TGFβ affects regulatory cells (called "T cells") that normally tell the body things are safe (things like food, for example). Studies seem to point to low TGFβ levels being related to overreaction to allergens, and if results from studies in mice are correct, scientists could be in the process of identifying the cause of, and therefore leading the way to a cure for allergies.
Study author Harry Dietz, M.D., a professor of medicine and genetics at Johns Hopkins told Healthline: “It was interesting to learn that an alteration in a single pathway in people lead to such diverse allergic phenotypes, including asthma, food allergy, eczema, and...gastrointestinal disease."
Imagine the possibilities! This is definitely work I'll be keeping an eye on, how about you?
With allergies, there's often very little time to communicate the risks of exposure, so making others aware of a child's allergies is key! Thankfully, there are tons of really great products on the market to help do just that. I've made a list of my son's favourite options for allergy accessories.
Why not add a little fashion statement to your allergy alerts?
The brightly-coloured wristbands from Allerbling are unique medical ID bracelets, which are customizable depending on your child's allergies.
Add a little attitude to allergy awareness with the fashionable products at Allergy Apparel. They sell a range of products from t-shirts to lunchboxes and tons of kid-friendly carrying cases. How rad are these Epi-Pen® carrying cases?
Blue Bear Aware
This company, based in Vancouver, British Columbia and owned by a fellow allergy parent, strives to make life a little easier for families who deal with allergies. They sell a range of products including auto-injector carriers and t-shirts alerting people to allergies (in kids', teens' and adult sizes). My little dude really digs this t-shirt:
Loveable Labels offers Medical Wristbands and allergy alert labels in a variety of pre-designed allergy options. The customizable cards for their Vital ID and Medical Wristbands are a great idea for alerting anyone to your child's specific health issues (i.e., allergies, asthma).
Mabel's Labels Allergy Alerts
Brightly-coloured, washable and sturdy, these allergy alerts are perfect for adding to water bottles and lunch bags. Their allergy alert labels are full customizable to your specific needs.
MedicAlert is probably the most highly-recognized, customizable medical alert accessory. And boy, have their styles changed! I think I should have one of these Roots cuffs to alert people about my sulpa allergy, don't you?
Does your child wear an allergy alert accessory?
Last year I read a story about a child who had been bullied because of his allergies and I felt angry. I mean, kids can be thoughtless, even cruel, but to threaten a peanut-allergic child with peanuts? Really? What kind of monster would do that kind of thing? Turns out, plenty of people. According to Allergic Living, their readers have reported "a bully licking an allergic child's pencils and erasers, after consuming an allergen; one child chasing another with his allergen; students handing out a packaged snack in class and refusing to let an allergic child read the label" and more.
Where are these kids getting this kind of intolerance? I'll tell you: their parents.
I'm a member of a number of online communities comprised primarily of parents and I cannot tell you how many times parents express extreme frustration over the limitations put on their lunch-packing options.
"What are we supposed to send if we can't send peanuts and dairy?" asks one parent. Well, I'll tell you: anything else. My child was allergic to both those things and I can assure you, there was plenty he was able to eat. Banning nuts from schools wasn't done to make lunch packing that much more difficult, it was done to save the life of a child. In the extremely rare circumstance when there are multiple severe allergies present, then maybe there's room for complaint, but typically I think it's just sheer laziness behind parents' complaints. I'll guarantee you that any parent of an allergic child would happily trade you for your picky one, regardless of how hard it seems to pack a lunch.
In some cases, parents even suggest allergic kids have no place in schools. When kids hear their parents express disdain for the "problem" (the allergic child), they too become hostile, and this is how these things happen.
This week, Erika Dacunha, a 16-year-old student in Toronto told her story about experiencing allergy bullying in her story for Allergic Living. As a result of her terrifying experiences with allergic reactions, not only does Dacunha suffer from life-threatening allergies, she also has mental health challenges (OCD and PTSD), issues exacerbated by relentless bullying by her peers. Among other horrible acts of bullying, Dacunha walked into a classroom to find her desk covered in pistachios, one of her worst allergies. Can you imagine the terror she felt?
Dacunha has these words to share:
"A message to the bullies out there: get educated and be compassionate. Everyone is different. No one is immune to a tragedy or challenge; one can happen at any moment and change your life forever. Why not spend your time on this Earth making it a better place, being kind and respectful instead of spreading hate and hurt?"
Read her full story on Allergic Living.