Food Allergy Week- Win with TidyTrays!

As if it weren’t enough that the lovely Kerri from TidyTrays is sponsoring me to go to Cybermummy (see mumazing for more details), she has also offered Food Allergy Kitchen readers the chance to win a Tidy Tray!

Kerri found Tidy Trays in North America after despairing at trying to find something in the UK to help protect her child when eating away from home. Clearly, when you have a child who suffers from an allergy, making sure there is no cross contamination becomes even more important.

Tidy Trays create a clean, safe eating surface for your child guarding them against germs and bacteria. They fit on every restaurant highchair, food court tray, daycare highchair and residential highchair tested in North America and the UK. Tidy Trays are easy to clean and machine washable and the built-in sippy cup holder can be used for easy fold away storage.

From a personal point of view, we have been caught by cross contamination with small boy more times than we would care to mention. We check every ingredient, down to the oil things are fried in, but things still get through. Being able to isolate at least some of the allergens would have been great, especially when he was (even) smaller.

Tidy Trays come in pink or blue and to WIN a lovely Tidy Tray of your very own, simply leave a comment below telling us why you should win a TidyTray, and you could be our next lucky winner!

Competition closes at 12pm on Monday 7th February 2011. Now get commenting!

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What if something bad happens? Win with MedicAlert

As you know, small boy has multiple allergies, with differing levels of reaction if he accidentally ingests something he shouldn’t. His most severe allergy, and the one to which he has instant and scary reactions is his peanut allergy, and because of this, he has to carry an epi-pen in case of anaphylaxis.

Small boy is only 5, so doesn’t really go anywhere without me or his Dad, except school, who have his picture and allergy information plastered in several places around the school. But what about if he was going somewhere without me? He is very good with his allergies and can tell people about them all, but what if he couldn’t speak, passed out or was choking?

Founded in 1956, with more than 50 years experience, The MedicAlert Foundation is the only registered charity that provides a life-saving identification system for people with hidden medical conditions and allergies.

As a MedicAlert Member, you wear a bracelet or necklet (known as an Emblem) engraved with a personal identification number, main medical condition(s) and an emergency telephone number. Each tailor made Emblem bears the internationally recognised symbol of the medical profession.

In an emergency, medical personnel have immediate access to vital information on the back of the MedicAlert disc. By phoning the emergency number, they can also gain further medical and personal information such as your name and address, doctor’s details, current drug therapy and next of kin details. A translation service is also available in more than 100 languages.

Currently supporting more than 300,000 members, MedicAlert Members include those with allergies, diabetes, epilepsy, cardiac conditions and a host of less common conditions.

Membership to the service – including a tailor-made Emblem starts at £19.95 plus the first year’s membership at £25- you can find out more and join by calling Freephone 0800 581 420 or visiting www.medicalert.org.uk

 

Exclusive Competition!

The lovely people at MedicAlert would like to offer Food Allergy Kitchen readers the chance to win an Annual Subscription to MedicAlert plus a stainless steel or wooden beaded emblem- a fantastic prize worth a whopping £44.95.

To enter, all you need to do is answer the following question and email your answer (please type MedicAlert in the subject line) to sam@samthewlis.co.uk by 12pm Friday 4th February 2011 and a winner will be chosen at random from the correct entries received.

In which year was MedicAlert founded?

Next week is Food Allergy Week

And we will be posting every day to try and help increase awareness and offer support to those affected by food allergies.

We also have some fab competitions and giveaways, from MedicAlert, Tidy Trays and more

See you next week!

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Cow’s milk allergies- less common than you think?

I came across this article today written by Greg Laden, as part of scienceblogs.com

Interesting reading for anyone who has ever thought their child may have a dairy allergy. Having said that, I never suspected small boy of having a dairy allergy, I just thought he threw up a lot. Oops.

 

Does breastfeeding increase the risk of food allergies?

Last Thursday (13 January 2011) the British Medical Journal published a report byMary Fewtrell and colleagues into whether exclusive breastfeeding for 6 months, which is the current WHO and UK Department of Health recommendation, could actually be bad for babies and, of particular interest to us here at Food Allergy Kitchen, that such a practice could actually increase the risk of developing food allergies.

The full report is available on the British Medical Journal (BMJ) website but I have reproduced the section that relates specifically to allergies below. In brief, the researchers were not disputing the proven benefits of breastfeeding for both mother and child, rather they were questioning whether 6 months was too late a time to start weaning.

The conclusions of this research were that leaving weaning until 6 months may actually increase incidence of food allergies, particularly those associated with wheat and gluten. The research also pointed out that allergies are rising despite advice to avoid certain allergenic foods, and in countries where peanuts (for example) are generally eaten at younger ages, the incidence of allergy is actually lower. Note that the research actually concluded that weaning before 4 months is also associated with later digestive problems, so in summary they are recommending a return to the practice of weaning between 4 and 6 months, which as anyone who had a baby before 2003 will know, was the advice mother used to be given.

From my own perspective, my small allergy-ridden boy was breastfed for 7 months, but started weaning  at about 5- 5 and a half  months, so as a test case he is decidedly inconclusive. As with everything else, as a mother you need to take everything and all the advice into account and make your own mind up. Easier said than done, I know.

We would love to hear your comments on the BMJ report and whether you agree or disagree with the results.

 

Allergy and coeliac disease

Kramer and Kakuma’s original review did not find a link between exclusive breast feeding duration and allergic disease (box 1). Important new data are now emerging with implications for practice.

Paradoxically, many developed countries have rising rates of food allergy, despite increasing advice to restrict and delay exposure to potentially allergenic foods, including cows’ milk, egg, fish, gluten, peanut, and seeds. Moreover, countries where peanuts are commonly used as weaning foods have low incidences of peanut allergy (Israel, for example 23). These observations have prompted further work on immune tolerance to foods.

The development of immune tolerance to an antigen may require repeated exposure, perhaps during a critical early window, and perhaps modulated by other dietary factors including breast feeding. A 2008 review24 found an increased risk of allergy if solids were introduced before three to four months. After four months, the evidence was weak, but suggested an increased risk with delayed introduction of certain allergens. For example, the incidence of early onset coeliac disease increased in Sweden following advice to delay introduction of gluten until age six months, and it fell to previous levels after the recommendation reverted to four months. Subsequent analyses suggest that gluten should ideally be introduced in small quantities alongside continued breast feeding.25 A more recent study in infants at risk (with a first degree relative with type 1 diabetes or carriage of certain HLA types), showed that introduction of gluten before three months and after six months was associated with increased risk of biopsy proved coeliac disease26 and islet cell autoantibodies27. This finding suggests that gluten may best be introduced during a critical window of three to six months. In the same cohort, introduction of wheat after six months predicted increased risk of wheat allergy at age four years.28 Two UK randomised trials are now investigating early introduction of allergenic foods: the Learning Early About Peanut Allergy (LEAP) study (http://clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/show/NCT00329784) and the Enquiring About Tolerance (EAT) trial (http://www.controlled-trials.com/ISRCTN14254740).

Extract courtesy of the British Medical Journal website http://www.BMJ.com Reference:  BMJ 2010;341:c5955