Food Allergies: Staying Safe And Having Fun

by Jean Pfefferkorn

Remember birthday parties–playing games, playing with friends, and eating the traditional cake and ice cream? Suppose your little one was excluded from this highlight of the kid calendar?

Many children are excluded, not because they don’t have enough friends, but rather because they can’t eat—or can’t be in the same room with—the foods, which their bodies may not tolerate.

Food allergies—a strong response to a food, triggered by an overzealous immune system—are common in children. Causes are unknown, and there is currently no cure beyond avoidance of the allergens. It’s serious: allergic food reactions can lead to anaphylaxis, other serious illness, and possible death.

For children,  allergens usually include eggs, milk, peanuts, and soy. Tree nuts and peanuts are the usual culprit for the deadly allergic reactions called anaphylaxis.

Seven-year-old Jack lives in Columbia, with multiple food allergies. His parents—teachers/authors Lang and Julie Wethington—have worked to find ways to keep Jack safe in family life, social gatherings, and especially childhood birthday parties.

Lang and Julie have written a book for children with food allergies, Yes I Can: Have My Cake and Food Allergies Too,  to encourage them to enjoy all of life, including allergy-safe food. The book, which is beautifully-illustrated by the authors, opens dialogue with family members and is an excellent teaching tool for children.

At the Central Branch on  Saturday, January 19, the Wethington family, including Jack, are giving a talk  about their experience.  Parents and children are encouraged to come together to share in the discussion, which begins at 2 p.m. Please register online or by calling 410.313.7880.

Jean has been working at Howard County Library System’s Central Branch for nearly nine years.

She walks in the Benjamin Banneker Park whenever she gets a chance.