Protecting Kids with temporary tattoos

food allergiesParents of the three million or so kids in the US who have been diagnosed with food allergies whose kids have severe food allergies know they can’t be too careful. One bite of the food they are allergic to could be deadly. Indeed, according to the CDS, more than 200 people with food allergies die every year as a result of anaphylaxis.

Now, Michele Walsh, a mother of three from Baltimore, has created SafetyTat  to help remind teachers, classmates and babysitters to be extra careful.

temp tattooThe safety tats are brightly colored temporary tattoos or long-lasting write-on stickers that can be placed prominently on a child’s arm, with information such as “ALERT: NUT ALLERGY” or other critical information.

When you leave a child in someone else’s care at school or camp, “no matter how many times you fill out the forms, you’re still taking a leap of faith,” Walsh says. “This is like my voice with my son when I’m not there. It’s almost like teaching them ‘stop, drop and roll…’ They know exactly what to do.”

Another company –  Allermates offers allergy education tools, stickers, alert bracelets and other products for kids. Allermates was created by Iris Shamus, inspired by her son’s multiple allergies and an incident at school. “When you have a child with a food allergy, you’re always worried. It’s just part of your life,” she says. “I wanted to have something a little more personalized for him to remind teachers and babysitters.”

allermatesIt began with a fun necklace, then a wristband and a large selection of products accompanied by cartoon characters such as Nutso, a charming peanut, to help her son understand, remember and confidently discuss his allergies.

It makes me feel so much more secure,” she says. “I know you can’t be there all the time when you’re a mom, and this gives you peace of mind.”

Anything that can help educate the patient about their problem and continue to make them aware about it is helpful whether it’s a temporary tattoo or a warning bracelet,” says Stan Fineman MD, immediate past president of the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology.  “The important thing is for people to accurately find out what they’re allergic to and then make sure to take the appropriate precautions,” Fineman says. He says parents of kids with severe allergies should keep EpiPens on hand, check school policies, talk to school officials and bring in treats their kids can eat for special events.

allermates 2Betsy Shea of Chicago says both of her boys, 4-year-old Colin and 2-year-old Emmet, have nut allergies, and Colin wears Allermates’ green snap-on wristband featuring Nutso. She’s thinking about trying temporary tattoos for Emmet.

Having allergies herself, she remembers having to wear the traditional metal medical alert band, which made her feel different and self-conscious. But Colin “loves that band. He wears it with pride and thinks it’s just so cool. We couldn’t get him to take it off for a while,” she says.

We thinks it’s pretty cool too!

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Welcome to World Allergy Week

WAWlogo_clearToday marks the start of the World Allergy Organization’s (WAO) annual World Allergy Week.

During the 2013 event, WAO together with its 93 national Member Societies, will be addressing the topic of “Food Allergy – A Rising Global Health Problem,” and its growing burden on children.

Globally, it’s estimated that as many as 220-250 million people suffer from food allergy.  And the incidence is on the rise in both developed and developing countries, especially in children.

During World Allergy Week WAO plans to highlight the need for greater awareness and understanding of food allergy as well as the exchange of ideas and collaboration in order to address a variety of safety and quality-of-life issues related to the care of patients with food sensitivity.

According to Professor Ruby Pawankar, President of the World Allergy Organization, “There are problems that need to be addressed in many countries throughout the world such as the lack of awareness of food allergies, lack of standardized national anaphylaxis action plans for food allergy, limited or no access to epinephrine auto-injectors, and the lack of food labeling laws. Moreover, some countries have standardized action plans but no ready access to auto-injectors; while others have auto-injectors but no standardized action plans.”

An important part of the initiative of World Allergy Week 2013 is to advocate for the safety and quality of life of patients who suffer from food hypersensitivity. WAO has also produced a list of online food allergy resources for healthcare professionals and patients / caregivers, which we have reproduced below.

HEALTHCARE RESOURCES

Kids Teased about Food Allergies No Laughing Matter

Access the article

WAO White Book on Allergy

Access the book

Food Allergy: Pathogenesis and Prevention
World Allergy Forum, December 2012, Orlando, Florida, USA
Access the presentations

Food Allergy
Cassim Motala, Joaquín Sastre, Dolores Ibáñez
WAO Global Resources in Allergy (GLORIA™), 2009, updated 2011
Access slide deck

Cow’s Milk Allergy in Children
Access the summary

Anaphylaxis
Richard F. Lockey, September 2012, updated Disease Summary

Access the summary

WAO Diagnosis and Rationale for Action against Cow’s Milk Allergy (DRACMA) Guidelines
Access the article

ICON: Food Allergy
The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, 2012; 129(4): 906-920
Access the article

World Allergy Organization Guidelines for the Assessment and Management of Anaphylaxis
World Allergy Organization Journal, 4:13-37, February 2011
Access the article

PATIENT / CAREGIVER RESOURCES

PrintFood Allergy Research & Education (FARE)

The FARE website has an abundant source of valuable resources specifically for patients suffering from food allergies and the people who care for them, including:


anaphylaxis-campaignAnaphylaxis Campaign

The Anaphylaxis Campaign is a UK charity catering exclusively to the needs of people at risk from anaphylaxis by providing information and support relating to foods and other triggers such as latex, drugs and insect stings.
The AllergyWise online programs provide training for families, carers and individuals as well as health professionals. General information on Anaphylaxis and Severe Allergy

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Food Allergy Organizations Unite to Combat the Crisis and Find a Cure

In the United States, food allergies send a person to the emergency room every three minutes and account for over a million emergency department visits each year. For about 140,000 patients each year, their food allergies result in anaphylaxis – a serious life-threatening consequence. Of these, up to 1,000, many of them children, will die.

Which is why we were pleased to learn that the nation’s two leading food allergy organizations are planning to merge.

Rather than competing for funding, as they have in the past, the Food Allergy Initiative (FAI) and the Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Network (FAAN) will unite. In doing so they hope to secure the private and public support needed to advance a cure for food allergies, and provide critical resources for food-allergic individuals and families.

Recent research shows that food allergies are a significant and growing public health issue affecting 1 out of every 13 children – roughly two in every classroom. With nearly 40% of these children already having experienced a severe or life-threatening food-allergic reaction, the need for a cure is urgent.

The merger will combine FAAN’s expertise as a trusted source of information, programs, and resources related to food allergy and anaphylaxis with FAI’s leadership as the world’s largest private source of funding for food allergy research.

FAI and FAAN have collaborated for nearly 15 years on initiatives to increase understanding of the severity of food allergies and to support food-allergic families,” said Todd Slotkin, chairman of FAI. “Bringing together the considerable expertise and resources that both organizations offer will elevate both our ongoing private commitment to find a cure for food allergies and our work on behalf of the food-allergic community.”

Every day we work with thousands of families across the United States who are dealing with the serious physical, social, and emotional impacts of food allergies,” said Janet Atwater, chair of FAAN. “The unification of FAAN and FAI allows us to move forward together as an even stronger champion for these families and the driving force advancing research to find a cure.”

SRxA’s Word on Health applauds this initiative and looks forward to seeing the benefits of this collaboration. In the meantime we think the ‘more can be achieved by collaborating than competing‘ message could be an important one for congress.

Not so Rotten Eggs!

As someone who stood in line for 3 hours to receive my H1N1 vaccine last year, only to be turned away by an officious clipboard wielding nurse, this Word on Health blogger just had an “I told you so” moment!

According to new recommendations by the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology (AAAAI), anyone with a history of suspected egg allergy should first be evaluated by an allergist or immunologist for appropriate testing and diagnosis but can probably receive the vaccination.

Matthew J. Greenhawt, M.D., and James T. Li, M.D., Ph.D., from the Department of Internal Medicine at Mayo Clinic, have co-authored the guidelines based on recent studies that show that even the most egg-allergic individuals can receive the flu vaccine safely under the care of their allergist/immunologist.

As I know only too well, in the past, people with egg allergy were told they could not have the flu vaccine because it contained egg protein which could potentially trigger an allergic reaction. However new research shows that not only do flu vaccines contain only tiny amounts of egg protein, the vast majority people with egg allergies don’t react.  Indeed it seems that many people with diagnosed or suspected egg allergy can receive the influenza vaccination successfully, if simple precautions are followed.

These include:

  • Anyone with a history of suspected egg allergy should first be evaluated by an allergist or immunologist for appropriate testing and diagnosis
  • Patients with a confirmed egg allergy can then receive the vaccine safely using one of two protocols: a two-step graded challenge or a single, age-appropriate dose

It is not necessary to withhold influenza vaccination from egg-allergic patients,” says Greenhawt. “Our recommendations provide two flexible approaches to vaccination. Each approach is backed with recent evidence that it is safe. Most allergists should be able to identify with one of our recommended approaches and, as such, be able to vaccinate their egg-allergic patients with confidence.”

So, Nah! Nah! Na! Nah! Nah! to you officious nurse.  Who has egg on their face now?

Do you have vaccine stories to share?  Word on Health would like to hear them.