15th Annual Food Allergy Conference

I've had a chance to reflect upon my recent experiences at FAAN's (www.foodallergy.org) annual conference in Baltimore. This was my 4th trip to the conference and I found that much of the content is a repeat for those of us who are repeat attenders. It was stated at the beginning of the day that the majority of the people in the room were first time attendees. For that reason, the same overview of food allergies, its causes and symptoms, definition of anaphylaxis, etc. was presented for those new to this diagnosis. I can appreciate that. Personally, I found the afternoon sessions more helpful. There were discussions about how parents need to change their roles as they prepare their food allergic children for the challenges of life with food allergy. There was a presentation on advocating for change with updated information that I found to be useful. Some of the take-aways from this conference for me:
  • Sesame seed allergies are rising and may soon be included in the top allergen list.
  • After an anaphylaxis reaction, emergency rooms often prescribe 5 days of steroids- question the necessity of this.
  • Help is still needed on The Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Management Act (FAAMA) which calls for national guidelines for managing food allergies in school. Specifically, the bills are HR 2063 in the House and S 1232 in the Senate. I am pleased to report that the house passed this bill on April 8, 2008. The Senate has yet to take action. The full Senate bill can be read here: http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/z?c110:S.1232. Contact your state Senators (check here if you don't know who they are: http://www.firstgov.gov/Contact/Elected.shtml) and write, e-mail, call and ask them to support this bill.
  • Progress is being made in the area of possible treatments for food allergies. Chinese herbal formulas, immunotherapy, a peanut vaccine are all being studied and show some promising results.
  • Regent Seven Seas cruise lines are food allergy friendly.
  • The Yellow Fever vaccine must be avoided by those with an egg allergy. Also, those with egg allergy need to avoid the flu shot and flu mist.

Every time I attend this conference, I meet some really nice people and I leave with good information and a renewed spirit about living with food allergies in our family. While I can't control my child's food allergies, I know that I can do many things to educate, advocate and manage food allergies.

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