New blog entries now being posted at the new blog site!

May 17, 2007 at 9:42 pm (alert, Allergy News!, Blog & Websites, Blogroll, Websites)

Allergyware.com has had a major makeover!

I am now posting the latest allergy headlines to hit my inbox on my new blog.

This page will remain as an archive, but please subscribe to allergyware.com!

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The migration has started

May 17, 2007 at 9:38 am (Allergy News!, Blog & Websites, Blogroll, Websites)

After a long time of putting it off, I am finally starting to move this site, as well as the allergyware.com site, to a new format.

I will keep this blog active, but I will be posting the allergy news, recalls, and links, etc. at the new allergyware.com, which will soon be this site.

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To my blogger friends on blogspot.com

May 9, 2007 at 6:29 pm (Blog & Websites, Blogroll, cooking, food, labeling, legal, legislation, medical, social issues, Websites)

Allergic Girl, on Please Don’t Pass the Nuts:

Keep on keepin’ on.  We need truth in food preparation, even GMOs!!  I am so fired up about Frankenfoods right now.

Food Allergy Queen:

Your blog is awesome!

Sorry I am blogspot-challenged today.  I don’t know what the deal is, but google has it out for me, I think.  Giving me t-rubble!

To all who send me notes, comments, or who bump into me online: I am sorry for not being a better “reciprocal” blog reader and commentor.  I am outright swamped.

Today I took a few minutes and actually READ a few allergy blogs for the first time in months.  It was awesome.  I have missed it.  Being a full-time mom again is really all-consuming, what can I say?

I highly recommend the above two blogs!

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A note from Ria Sharon of Checkmytag.com, and note from me on what it’s like to be an allergymompreneur

May 9, 2007 at 5:58 pm (Allergy News!, Blog & Websites, Blogroll, Canada, Contributors to the Podcast, education, gear, kids, labeling, newspapers, peanut, Products, social issues, USA, Websites)

Most of our friends and family are amazingly thoughtful and ask, “Is this safe?” before they give our little guy anything to eat. A few just give me the box so I can check the label. But almost all will admit their discomfort with making the call themselves, partly because they are not sure what to look for when they are reading packaged food labels.

Next week is Food Allergy Week so we are making extra efforts to promote food safety for our food-allergic friends and loved ones. The Spring issue of our bulletin, Be Aware. Be Safe. is devoted to taking the mystery out of the new labeling laws. Please help us raise awareness and understanding of food allergies, by passing this .pdf along to your friends, co-workers, educators, and childcare providers.

Also, visit our Community page, http://www.checkmytag.com/community.html beginning May 20th to read personal accounts from the blogosphere on how food allergies have changed the daily lives of a growing number of families.

Thanks for helping to keep kids safe,

Ria

Ria is a very warm and helpful individual.  Please check out her site!  It is not just about “selling shirts” for her.

Someone recently accused me of only doing this blog to direct people to my allergyware.com site.  She didn’t say it accusingly, but rather matter-of-fact.  As if.  😦  Why do I make the shirts?  Why did I do it in the first place?  Because allergies are a “growth industry?”  Because I was looking to make a quick buck?  C’mon.  My kid could DIE if he eats a peanut.  There were no shirts at all out there for sale except from England, when he tested positive for peanut.  What would YOU do?

Honestly, it is issues like the above that I am using this hiatus to think over.  I don’t want anyone to think that it is my desire or motivation to profit from my son’s life-threatening allergy.  The fact is, I’m not a millionaire who can set up a fund to research the cure.  I do not have the time to volunteer a lot and do a lot of political stuff, plus I do not have the temperament for it.

What I am is a writer with a degree in accounting.  I am a business person by training and a story-teller by birth.

I write this blog and I sell tee-shirts because I buy the tees myself.  My kid also wears shirts by other allergymompreneurs.  He took his first field trip today with his medicine in a bag from allergykids.com (thanks, Robyn).

If you are so cynical that you think for the past five years I have enjoyed some kind of status as Allergy Tee Shirt Emperor, then you are forgetting the heartbreak and daily stress and agony that go along with safe-guarding a child who is too young to speak for himself.

Pushing six years old, he is finally getting closer to being able to speak up for himself to people about his allergy.  He still can’t read, give himself his epinephrine shot, or measure out his own Benadryl.  He is dependent on any adult in his vicinity to notice if he develops hives, has trouble breathing, his eyes swell up, etc.

So I made him shirts.  When he was recently fed a nut-containing brownie at school, I sent him to school the next day in an allergy shirt, in addition to talking to his teachers about what happened.  You know what?  Call me materialistic & opportunistic and any other “istic” that you want, but I FELT BETTER knowing his shirt said this in big letters:

cutelittlesamallergyshirt.jpg

(this was him four years ago, nearly exactly!)

This is him today, in a Nut Free Zone hoodie:

sam042607.jpg

I love this child.  He is not a model, a product spokesman, a clotheshorse, or a mannequin to hang shirts on.

HE IS MY CHILD.

If you think I’m doing this blog and doing my shirts for the money, or you wonder why I don’t do more: I am doing what I can, where I can, with what I can.

I love my children, all three of them, and I am doing my best.  This blog is filled with photos, links, articles, podcasts, recalls, news, you name it.  I am doing my best.  I doubt I will ever give up the blog, but for now I am not in the frame of mind to do videos or audio podcasts.  I probably will again.  I do not feel like I am “done,” you know?  But my time is sort of maxed out right now.

Now head on over to Ria’s site, or any of the awesome Allergy Mom (and Dad) sites listed in this blogroll.

Sorry for the tangent, but I think it deserves to be said: Allergy Moms who started Allergy businesses have their hearts in the right place. They should be commended, not distrusted!

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Playground bullying vs. teasing

April 28, 2007 at 10:51 am (Allergy News!, Blog & Websites, education, food, kids, nut-free, Products, safety, school, social issues)

There have been a lot of blog posts in the allergic community lately about kids bullying allergic classmates.

This calls to mind a post I left on a local message board over the weekend, about being teased. Here’s an excerpt:

being made fun of

 

Submitted by lmharmon on Thu Apr 26, 2007 10:09 pm

 

Take this for what it’s worth, but being made fun of can be so character-building. I’m not saying it’s something I’d seek out for my kids, but it’s not the end of the world.

I was at least a foot and a half taller than every second grader at my new school, the beginning of second grade. Add to the fact that I had (first) buckteeth and then (worse) a headgear. I was called Radar Head, and openly attacked physically by little boys on the playground that were intimidated by my size.

Amazingly, I quickly made friends and endured the teasing with no lasting damage. I only recently even remembered being called Radar Head. I do remember the teasing a neighbor boy got on the bus for taking up for me! They accused him of being my boyfriend! Rolling Eyes Embarassed Very Happy

Oh, did I mention my mother dressed me funny? Knee socks and tartan skirts and other very feminine clothing, for me, the total tomboy. It was a nightmare.

But I actually enjoyed school a lot, became one of the most popular kids in school, was a cheerleader, etc.

The whole time, I was taller than everyone, and went through not only the headgear, but a functional appliance, braces, etc.

…I think I was the living dictionary of “awkward stage” all through those precious years.

My point being, on this topic, that being teased is something that will happen to most kids (some of us more than others!), and I think we actually grow from the experience.

As the mother of a child with peanut allergy, I have been called “Peanut Lady” in a moment of insensitivity by an administrator at my son’s school. Again…an opportunity for growth on my part, and education for him. (He was immediately apologetic, but how revealing that slip was of his heart, at least at that moment.)

The reason I post this today is because I want to make something crystal clear: teasing is not the same as bullying. Bullying can employ teasing, but name-calling and rough-wrestling (which is probably outlawed now that kids aren’t typically free to skin their knees on the playground) are common parts of child development. Most kids will be on both sides of that experience at some point before they begin adolescence. They had better be!

Bullying takes teasing too far. Bullying takes the wrestling and makes it mean. It is a kid who is three times bigger, and old enough to know better, pushing another kid around. It is the little girl who knows that the special needs child in her school is mildly retarded, who still openly mocks and makes fun of the differently-abled child. Words and actions can be used mildly, or they can be abusive.

Bullying is abusive. Teasing really is not.

If my kid gets called Peanut Boy (not likely at his current school), then that’s teasing, right? But if someone holds a peanut butter and jelly sandwich over his head unawares, that’s not teasing. That’s dangerous. And then we’re getting into bullying issues.

Personally, I think life is too short for bullying amongst adults, but even that occurs. I have experienced it with food allergies, very often. People are sometimes openly resentful that we do not eat nut products (why they take this personally, I will never know), sometimes passive-aggressive about it, testing us and trying to get us to “slip” and eat something that might endanger our nursing child, or via contact, cause a reaction in Sam. Why do they do it?

I can only presume it is for the same reason the playground bully chases a classmate around with a handful of peanuts in his hand: it’s a short-term power trip without thought for the long-term ramifications on others.

sam042607.jpg

Sam models his Nut Free Zone hoodie.

iamloved.jpgcutelittlesamallergyshirt.jpg

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If your child has peanut allergy, he/she may react to SOY, as well

April 22, 2007 at 12:46 pm (Allergy News!, asthma, Blog & Websites, kids, medical, nut-free, peanut, Science, soy, tree nut, USA, Websites)

Dear AllergyKids’ Friends,

Soy Induced Anaphylaxis in Children with Asthma and Peanut Allergy
As many of you know, soy is one of the top eight allergens. What you may not know is that a child with a peanut allergy can have an allergic reaction after eating a food that contains soy, according to the Asthma and Allergy Resource Center.

How could soy cause an allergic reaction in my child with peanut allergy?
In scientific terms, soybean allergens are “homologous” to known peanut allergens and can be recognized by 44% of peanut-allergic patients.

What that means is that a child with a peanut allergy can have an allergic reaction and even go into anaphylaxis after eating soy. Because this cross-reactivity is rarely mentioned in the press, many parents are unaware of the potential health risks that soy may present to children with peanut allergies.

What are the Signs of a Cross-Reaction to Soy?
According to Ingrid Yman, PhD of the Swedish National Food Administration, these deaths initially appear as an asthma attack, with no or very mild symptoms for the first 30-90 minutes after the consumption of food containing soy. Then, the children suffer fatal asthma attacks.

What Can I Do to Protect My Child with Peanut Allergy?
According to Dr. Yman, PhD of the Swedish National Food Administration, “If your child is allergic to peanuts, you should consider eliminating soy as well as all peanuts from your child’s diet, even if your child has never reacted poorly to soy in the past. Some sensitive children have “hidden” soy allergies that manifest for the first time with a severe – even fatal – reaction to even the low levels of “hidden” soy commonly found in processed food products. Those at the highest risk suffer from asthma as well as peanut allergy.”

The Swedish National Food Administration study analyzed severe food allergy reactions of children that died after consuming soy. These children had known allergies to peanuts but not to soy.

What products contain soy?
Soy can be found in soy milk, tofu, soy sauce, baby formula and other soy products.

Soy is also used in many processed foods, as soy lecithin, soy lectin, soybean oil and other soy derivatives.

Soy is commonly used as animal-feed in livestock.

It is only within the last nine years that soy has become one of the top eight allergens.

Soy has recently been genetically engineered to contain new proteins and potential allergens.

Are there other facts that I may not know about soy?
According to Daniel Sheehan, PhD and director of the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA’s) National Center for Toxicological Research, soy-fed babies are taking part in “a large, uncontrolled and basically unmonitored human infant experiment.”

The British Dietetic Association now warns parents to avoid soy formula given the results of a 2003 study conducted by Dr. Gideon Lack from St Mary’s Hospital, Imperial College, London, UK.

The French Food Agency will soon require warning labels on all soy foods, soy formulas and soy milk so that consumers will be aware of the risks that soy poses to children under the age of three, those with hypothyroidism, and women with a family history of breast cancer.

In January 2006, the American Heart Association reversed its position on soy.

Why haven’t I heard this before?
AllergyKids is one of the first independently funded food allergy organizations in the world. We highlight all food allergy research that relates to the health and well-being of children and their families.

Being independently funded, AllergyKids is able to avoid conflicts of interest that funding ties may present – the importance of which is detailed in the work of Dr. Susan Linn of Harvard University and Marion Nestle, former editor of the Surgeon General Letter on Nutrition and Health.

What can I do to learn more?
AllergyKids would like to highlight the work of Kaayla Daniel, PhD. In her book, The Whole Soy Story, Dr. Daniel details the cross reactivity between soy and peanut, specifically addressing in detail the risks that soy poses to children with peanut allergy and asthma.

In the United States, the Weston A. Price Foundation is spearheading efforts to address children with peanut allergy who were fed soy as infants and toddlers.

What else can I do?
If you believe that the consumption of soy products or soy formula may have played a role in the development of your child’s food allergies, please contact:

Sally Fallon, President
The Weston A. Price Foundation
PMB 106-380 4200 Wisconsin Avenue, NW
Washington DC 20016
Phone: (202) 363-4394
info@westonaprice.org

How can I support AllergyKids’ Independent Research?
To support AllergyKids’ independent research, even if you don’t have a child with food allergies, please consider purchasing products for your child or your child’s school or preschool so that we can continue to provide families with the tools to help protect children.

We invite you to follow the lead of Linda, a nurse in upstate New York who conducted a fund raiser with her association of school nurses and purchased custom-designed AllergyKids Kits for every elementary school in the district.

Please forward this email and encourage friends to sign up for our FREE newsletters
Please consider forwarding this email to your friends and family in an effort to spread this previously unhighlighted information about the risk that soy poses to children with asthma and peanut allergy.

If you would like to include this letter on your website or in your blog, please refer to AllergyKids as the source of this information and encourage your readers to sign up for our free newsletters which will continue to provide leading research.

If we can ever answer any questions, please do not hesitate to contact us at http://www.allergykids.com or 1.800.671.1525.

As Robert F. Kennedy said, “Some men see things the way they are, and ask ’why?’”
For our children, we see things the way they should be, and ask ’why not?’

In our quest for a cure for these children, no truth is too complex. We must simply have the courage to pursue it.

With hope for our children,
Robyn O’Brien
Founder, AllergyKids
Mother of Four
1.800.671.1525

About Robyn O’Brien: Prior to launching AllergyKids, Robyn was in the process of applying for a PhD after drafting her first book, Sugar Mamas: Nutrition’s Impact on the Health and Well-Being of Mothers and Their Children. When her fourth child was diagnosed with potentially life threatening food allergies, she curtailed her personal pursuit in an effort to create greater awareness of the millions of children with food allergies.

Prior to motherhood, Robyn worked as an analyst on one of the nation’s largest mid-cap portfolio management teams. Her team was responsible for $20 billion in assets, covering everything from Enron, to Ebay to Martha Stewart. Robyn received an MBA in finance on a full scholarship and was a Fulbright Fellow.

In her efforts to create awareness of children with food allergies, she has received encouragement from Erin Brockovich and parents around the world.

Robyn asks that you please consider forwarding this email to others who are looking to protect the health and well-being of their families.

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Allergy Conference Call

April 19, 2007 at 10:14 am (Allergy News Podcast. Listen free., Allergy News!, almond, Blog & Websites, cooking, food, labeling, medical, USA, Websites)

Have a listen.

I could not get into the conference call, but it is a very educational conversation.

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Let’s talk about fish protein

February 6, 2007 at 1:20 pm (Allergy News!, Blog & Websites, Blogroll, fish, medical, milk, recalls, Science, social issues, Websites)

A very enlightening email!!

Dear AllergyKids’ Friends,

DNA from Fish Protein Found in Ice Cream
According to ABC news and University of Cincinnati researchers, one of the nation’s leading ice cream brands and some of their popsicles contain the DNA (genetic material) from fish protein.  Scientists added a cloned protein from a fish in order to make the ice cream smoother.

Fish is one of the top eight food allergens.  So please take a moment to read and to forward this important email.

What other foods containing DNA and genetic material should I be aware of?
Foods that contain the DNA and genetic material of other animals and plants are called “genetically modified” foods.

The first genetically modified food was a tomato – introduced in 1994.  The tomato had the DNA (genetic material) of a fish injected into it to make the tomato last longer on grocery store shelves.

A poll conducted in December 2006 revealed that most Americans don’t realize that they’re eating genetically modified food, and that 60 per cent have no idea that it’s in their diet.  Genetically modified foods can include soy, corn, dairy, eggs, tomatoes, potatoes, and fish.

What does “genetically modified” mean?
Scientists take the DNA (genetic material) of one organism (like the fish) and inject it into the DNA of another organism (like the tomato).  By injecting one organism with another, the structure of the food protein is changed.  Children with food allergies are allergic to foods’ proteins (egg protein, milk protein, peanut protein, etc.).

When were genetically modified foods introduced?
Widespread introduction of genetically modified foods (“GMOs”) began ten years ago.  Beginning in the 1990s, corn was genetically modified so that it could produce its own insecticidal toxin that the corn plant releases as it grows.  Today, 70% of “corn” as we know it is genetically modified.

In 1998, the genetically modified soybean was introduced and a 50% increase in the number of people with soy allergy was seen in that year alone.  Today, 90% of “soy” as we know it is genetically modified.  According to the New England Journal of Medicine, when the soybean was genetically modified with a nut, it induced an allergic reaction in 7 out of 9 cases.

Does the sudden increase in the number of children with food allergies correspond with the introduction of genetically modified foods?
AllergyKids finds it interesting that genetically modified foods were only introduced ten years ago and that research shows that within the first five years of the introduction of the genetically modified soybean, the number of children with the peanut allergy doubled.

Parts of the genetically modified soybean are identical to known allergens.

Corn is the fastest growing genetically modified crop and one of the fastest growing food allergies in children.

What else should I know about genetically modified foods?
Genetically modified foods (“GMOs”) have altered food proteins.  Children with food allergies are allergic to food proteins. GMOs can be found in 70% of all processed foods as well as in infant formula, baby food, frozen pizzas and fruit juices.

Currently, the list of genetically modified foods intersects with the list of the top 8 allergens (including wheat, soy, dairy, egg, fish, nuts) as well as lesser known allergens (corn, tomatoes, pork and chicken).

Labeling of genetically modified foods is required in Europe, Asia, Australia and most developed countries because of the unknown health risks of genetically modified foods (“GMOs”).  Just this week, Europeans requested additional labeling for milk, meat and egg products derived from animals fed genetically engineered crops.

No human trials have been conducted to test the safety of GMOs.

Please forward this email to others and encourage them to sign up for our free newsletter.  As we learn more about GMOs, you can help protect the health of your family and friends, as we learn more about genetically modified foods and the unknown role that they play in the health of our children.

AllergyKids needs your support to continue this important research.
Every time that you purchase AllergyKids’ stickers for your child’s preschool or an AllergyKids’ med case to carry your child’s epinephrine; you are supporting our independent research on behalf of all of these children.

We understand that you will have questions since 60% of Americans have never heard of a “GMO”, so please do not hesitate to contact us.

More information is also available on our Resources page at http://www.allergykids.com or by conducting a keyword search: “GMOs and food allergies”.

With hope for the cure,

Robyn O’Brien
Founder, AllergyKids
Mother of Four
1.800.671.1525

I encourage all of you to sign up for Robyn’s email list!

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Food Allergy Project

January 26, 2007 at 9:53 am (Allergy News!, Blog & Websites, Blogroll, video, Websites)

Great website, check out this video page.

Thanks, Gina, for the email.

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Nut-free facilities

January 20, 2007 at 9:54 am (Allergy News!, Blog & Websites, Blogroll, cooking, kids, nut-free, peanut, Websites)

Thanks, Karen, for the LINK and the list.

babypinkcreeper.jpg

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