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Allergy resources for parents and kids


“The Peanut Allergy Answer Book: 2nd Edition,” by Michael C. Young

“How to Manage Your Child’s Life- Threatening Food Allergies: Practical Tips for Everyday Life,” by Linda Marienhoff Coss

“The Peanut Allergy Epidemic: What’s Causing It and How to Stop It” by Heather Fraser

“Allie the Allergic Elephant: A Children’s Story of Peanut Allergies,” by Nicole Smith and Maggie Nichols

“The Princess and the Peanut Allergy,” by Wendy McClure and Tammie Lyon

“Jude The Dude: The Peanut Allergy Kid (Volume 1),” by Bridget M. Batson

Websites allergy/DS00710 food/nut_allergy.html

For decades, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches have been a staple of children’s lunchboxes. Delicious and nutritious, the protein-packed PB&J is loved by millions of kids and adults alike.

Today, peanut butter is not as common in schools, partly because of the number of children who are allergic to it. Dr. Elizabeth McKenna, a pediatrician at Healing Hearts Pediatrics, PLC in Chandler, says that although it may seem like more children than ever have peanut allergies, there’s also an increase in awareness.

“We definitely treat and test more for both food and environmental allergies than we used to,” she says. “However, it may not be necessarily a true increase in the incidence, but just that there is a larger population, and a lot more recognition of allergies and the adverse effects they can have than previously.”

September 2011

While the most common food allergy McKenna sees in her practice is to peanuts, she says others include milk, egg white, fish, shellfish, soy, wheat, strawberries, tomatoes and citrus. The type of reaction can vary widely from child to

child, and in some cases is very serious.

“There are various degrees of severity of allergic response that people can have to different allergens,” McKenna says, adding that food allergies can start in infancy and in many cases are genetic. “Some people can have an extremely severe response to peanuts or other foods called anaphylaxis. This response is life threatening, as it causes the larynx to swell up and a person can have complete airway obstruction and respiratory arrest,” she says. “There are other severe reactions which include a wheezing episode or asthma attack. There are less serious, but prominent reactions such as hives, allergic rhinitis – manifesting as itchy nose, watery drainage or nasal congestion – cough, as well as eczema, which is an itchy, red, dry rash which affects many people with allergies.” McKenna says there are steps parents can take to prevent symptoms and adverse reactions to food allergies.

“Avoidance of certain foods, and often times delayed introduction of certain foods can prevent

BEWARE ALLERGENS: Dr. Elizabeth McKenna of Healing Hearts Pediatrics, PLC is treating more children for allergies, especially to peanuts.

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WiWin allergy ba le

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battle with awarene s, prevention

awareness, prevention

an allergic reaction,” she says. “In our pediatric practice, we recommend waiting to introduce egg whites and fish until 1 year, and peanuts until at least 18 months. Children who have mild to moderate food allergies can also rotate foods and not eat the offending food more than every four days and in small quantities to keep the immune system from overreacting when it is reintroduced.”

In addition, McKenna says immunotherapy can often prevent children’s allergic response to certain allergens, both food and environmental. In other cases, allergies can be outgrown, she says. “One person may be severely allergic to shellfish as a child but have no problem when older. When babies are allergic to milk protein as an infant, we will retry them on milk at a year or older, and their allergy to milk may have resolved,” McKenna explains. “Many allergies persist however, and sometimes people may have more allergic responses later in life than they did as a child.”

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