Back to school can be an exciting time, but it can also be stressful, especially for parents of children who have food allergies.
Two years ago, Elise Bates and Kim Hall because friends over the fact that their daughters have food allergies, which is something they each discovered early on.
“At 3 months-old, she broke out with eczema all over her body,” said Elise Bates of Fairfield.
“When she was 11 months-old, I fed her scrambled eggs with cheese, and she went into anaphylactic shock,” said Kim Hall of North Stamford.
Neither child has a family history of severe allergies.
According to Food Allergy Research and Education, one in every 13 children are affected by this potentially deadly disease.
Come 2020, researchers project that number will change to one in five.
“It's a real lifestyle. With a child with a dairy, egg, and nut allergy, just a trace amount can put her into a life-threatening situation,” Hall said.
These mothers said by the time they fully adjusted to the lifestyle, it was time to send their children off to school.
“When they're really little you can control it,” Bates said, adding that it gets trickier when the child is going to school, getting on the school bus, being on sports teams, traveling and going to friends’ houses.
Since there are so many different allergies, there is not one set solution for how schools can handle the food allergies.
“There isn't a one-size-fits-all solution--every child is different,” Bates said. “Our children look fine, until they have a reaction.”
“Because her allergens are in so many foods, the easiest thing to do--whether its school, or a play date, or a birthday party--is to send all of her own food,” Hall said.
Both moms stressed that communication is key.
“Figure out what the policies are in the class parties, field trips, and any food that's going to be brought into the classroom,” Bates said.
Both moms created a non-profit organization called EAT: End Allergies Together.
For more information on the organization, click here.
For more on food allergies and resources, click here.
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