I’ve wanted to write a post about this for a while. In fact, if truth be told, for a long while. And especially since Callum’s story hit the press!
Allergies have been out of the press for a very long time. But suddenly they are coming more to the fore.
I’ve helped to fuel this, and for that I am proud, very proud! And as long as I can, I will continue to do so!
Along with the recent press coverage, the BBC are currently showcasing a series of programmes based on allergies on Horizons. It has provided much debate within the allergy world. One of the topics discussed, features current reports that suggest there could be a link between antibiotics being consumed during pregnancy, and resulting allergy issues later down the line. Data does suggest that there could definitely be a correlation. And I for one, am most definitely open to the idea that they could be on to something. Although, I didn’t take any antibiotics during my pregnancy with Callum, nor did I during labour, or immediately after, and he is still suffering with multiple severe life threatening allergies!
With allergies, there are 2 key aspects, IgE mediated, and non-IgE mediated. IgE mediated allergy usually presents with immediate severe symptoms, whilst non-IgE symptoms usually occur over a longer period of time, hours or even a few days.
A wonderful source of helpful, useful and totally up to date information is Allergy UK. Take a look at their food allergy page for more details. It provides a wealth of information that can help you on your allergy journey, and was a great source of support and advice when Callum was first diagnosed.
The critical part to all of this, is that a lot of the articles recently released in the press have not provided factually correct information about allergies, apart from the one that included Callum’s story, and this is something I am passionate about changing. How can the situation with allergies be improved if the information provided doesn’t even help the cause?
Allergies, their causes, their symptoms and the ensuing hell that follows a reaction, need to be made more aware of. It’s not something that can be taken lightly. Severe allergies can be life threatening. That in itself should command a lot more respect than currently is given.
Ultimately, many many more people need to be educated! This particularly applies to the majority of our healthcare professionals! I know, it’s shocking to those outside of the allergy world, but sadly, it’s very true!
Take for example this nugget that I was provided with last week:
‘Mother to Health Visitor – I’m not sure what to do about my baby gaining sufficient weight due to his CMPA (Cows Milk Protein Allergy), is his special formula giving him enough? Should I supplement with something else?
Health Visitor – Have you tried giving Hipp Organic formula?
Mother – no of course not, it contains milk!
Health Visitor – well that’s ok, the cows have only organic feed so that shouldn’t be a problem for your little one’
This, thankfully, was said to a mother who was clued up to the allergy situation for her baby. Imagine however, if the mother was in a black bewildering hole, at the beginning of the long allergy journey, and took what the Health Visitor said as gospel as she quite simply didn’t know any better.
Now imagine if that baby was IgE mediated allergy, and giving milk protein product resulted in an anaphylactic shock? Scary concept or what!! And this information imparted by someone that mothers should be able to trust…
Too many people who sadly become part of the allergy world, spend months battling to get their children accurately/ correctly diagnosed. And are often faced with incorrect, inaccurate and unhelpful information being provided to them.
For the most part, a mother, who let’s face it, is very clued up and in tune to their little one, will know if something is amiss. They book an appointment with their GP or healthcare professional, voice their concerns and if lucky, their concerns are taken seriously, and the child is referred to a specialist – usually a Consultant/ Allergist etc and then placed on a treatment pathway. This is a minority situation!
Sadly, the reality for over 80% of children diagnosed with allergies is a long battle, with much frustration as parents desperately try to prove allergy reactions, often serious ones, punctured with frequent visits to the GP, and if really unlucky, many visits to hospital/ A&E.
For anyone who follows this blog, you all know it was most certainly the case for Callum. And as awful as it sounds, he’s very much not alone.
It isn’t ‘the latest in thing’/ ‘the new fashionable thing’/ ‘an inconvenience’/‘simply not happening’, or even the insulting ‘maybe we need to see if you’re suffering from PND (Post Natal Depression)’.
Oh yes, some mothers I’ve spoken to have actually been subjected to that insensitive question, whilst sat in front of a GP, with their child suffering with a severe allergic reaction, a food diary and photographic evidence as proof, and the GP has outright dismissed it.
At best, it’s shocking, reality is it’s damn scary!
The key to resolving this situation is to get healthcare professionals far more clued up to the situation. Training programmes are now starting to take place, which will assist in their decision making, and ultimately improve the time it takes for an allergy diagnosis to happen.
It is important to note that there are some very clued up, helpful and frankly impressive Consultants who, once you are finally able to access, will resolve the situation very quickly by putting your child on a treatment pathway that will ensure their allergies and resulting reactions are kept at bay.
I will visit this topic more in the future, but I thought it important to really explain the situation as I see it at the moment!
What do you think? How long has it taken/ did it take for your little one to be diagnosed? Where the symptoms taken seriously?