Deadly Reaction: Food allergies impact families, but not necessarily forever
It's not your imagination. Food allergies are on the rise, affecting at least one in every 20 children. When a child has a food allergy, life changes and normal things can prove difficult.
Just ask Dan Williams and his mother. Until just recently 12-year-old Dan's severe allergy to eggs and other foods kept him from most restaurants and normal foods like cake and pizza.
His mother Pamela Wiewel will never forget the day she got the news. It was just a week from his first birthday.
Wiewel said, "He had scrambled eggs as a soft baby food and he started swelling around his face and his tongue. His entire body had swelled up he was red and purple. We rushed to the emergency room and we almost didn't have time to save him, and it was 20 minutes."
Later she learned in addition to an egg allergy, he was deathly allergic to garlic and shellfish.
The worst allergy was garlic ... even the aroma was deadly. One close call was at a wedding when a much younger Dan got a whiff of some pasta.
Wiewel said, "My mom came out on the dance floor and they had already torn off his tuxedo and we've already given him his last rites three times."
A lifestyle with no eggs and no garlic was hard, with most of the meals made from scratch and served at home. Dan also found himself separated many times from classmates.
Dan said, "They would want me to get in line and eat pizza with them. But I said would you swim to the bottom of the ocean and not breathe? That's what it's like for me."
Wiewel said, "The problem is these kids who are allergic, can go from happy and healthy to stop breathing in ten minutes."
But the good news is some food allergies aren't forever. That's the word from Dr. Gary Carpenter with the Quincy Medical Group.
Dr. Carpenter said, "In fact it's almost the rule especially with egg and milk allergies. You can outgrow them."
Dan kept to a strict diet until deciding recently to get retested for allergies. His doctor found he's shed his allergy to eggs and garlic...which has opened up a world of possibilities and experiences to this pre-teen.
Dan said, "I feel this sense of freedom."
New research shows some babies can avoid food allergies by eating new foods like eggs and cows milk between the ages of six and nine months. That's a direct contradiction to advice touted by many medical organizations like the American Academy of Pediatrics for the last decade.