Last week, I attended a very special event in New York City, hosted by Mylan, makers of the EpiPen, which has just marked its 25 year anniversary. Over the past 25 years, food allergies have become epidemic, now effecting 1 out of 13 children in the United States. Two of those kids are mine. So, I have a vested interest in learning all there is to know about advances in research, and new recommendations in the management and care of food allergies.
The Mylan EpiPen Blogger Summit was a think tank about life-threatening food allergies and anaphylaxis, at which they revealed some disturbing new statistics about Valentine’s Day and Anaphylaxis. A recent survey* reveals that as many as one in three parents report that their children with life-threatening food allergies have experienced anaphylaxis on Valentine’s Day. Let’s do the math on that. That’s 33%. Additionally, this new survey revealed that:
- Less than half of parents (47%) talk to their child about risks posed to children with life-threatening allergies from physical contact related to Valentine’s Day, such as being kissed by someone who has recently eaten food they may be allergic to
- Only 47% of parents tell their teen that when going on dates, they should tell their date about their life-threatening food allergy
- 35% of parents did not indicate that they remind their teen to bring his/her epinephrine auto-injector (EpiPen) on dates
The takeaway? Parents of children with potentially life-threatening allergies need to initiate a pre-Valentine’s Day dialogue with their child about their anaphylaxis action plan. This plan should include avoiding known allergens, recognizing symptoms, having access to two epinephrine auto-injectors at all times and seeking immediate emergency medical care should anaphylaxis occur.
While Sloane Miller (Allergic Girl) gave a fantastic presentation on Creating Food Allergy Confidence with life-threatening food allergies, and the 3 step plan to making the overwhelming manageable (which includes carrying two Epinephrine Auto-Injectors at all times and having an anaphylaxis action plan), Ruchi Gupta, MD, MPH — the pediatric allergist responsible for the groundbreaking 2011 study “The Prevalence, Severity, and Distribution of Childhood Food Allergy in the Untied States” published in the journal “Pediatrics”, which first broke the “1 in 13” number –gave an excellent talk called “All about Anaphylaxis”. Here are some alarming new numbers from Dr. Gupta. Based upon the research from her now famous study: Of the 1 in 13 kids in the US with food allergies, 38% have already had a severe/anaphylactic reaction. Almost 40% have anaphylaxis.
Two agendas stood out for me most after this EpiPen Blogger Summit. 1. We must work harder to get epinephrine auto-injectors into all schools. 2. We need to normalize, demystify, and encourage the use of epinephrine auto-injectors as an early response to what might be an anaphylactic reaction. We need to lower the threshold for when its administered. EpiPen can be administered through clothes, and fyi, there is no needle revealed, so no needle fear.
Also in attendance were the following Food Allergy bloggers: Caroline Moassessi / Grateful Foodie, Elizabeth DiBurro / Easy Breezy Life, Heidi Bayer / Brooklyn Allergy Mom, Irene Chu / Get Allergy Wise, Sarah Chuck / Get Allergy Wise, Jenny Sprague / Multiple Food Allergy Help, Joanne LaSpina / Food Allergy Assistant, Kelly Rudnicki / Food Allergy Mama, Kimberly Pellicore / The Food Allergy Mom, Libby Ilson / The Allergic Kid, Lindsey Steffensen / Frugal Food Allergies, Lisa Rutter / No Nuts Moms Group, Missy Berggren / The Marketing Mama, Ruth LovettSmith / Best Allergy Sites, Tracy Bush / Nutrimom – Food Allergy Liaison
For more information about Anaphylaxis and EpiPens, see the Valentine’s Day press release here.
The survey was conducted online, from August 24 to September 3, 2012 in the United States by Harris Interactive, on behalf of Mylan Specialty.
And now for a safe, Allergy-Free Valentine’s Day treat…
makes 24 cookies (12 3-inch sandwich cookies and 12 2-inch hearts)
Sophisticated and divine, these cookies are a real treat, whether it’s Valentine’s Day or you just feel like saying “I love you.” And, they’re made without the traditional allergenic addition of hazelnuts or almonds; what could be better?
1/2 teaspoon plus 1/8 teaspoon xanthan gum
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3/4 cup dairy-free, soy-free vegetable shortening
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons firmly packed brown sugar
11/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
11/2 teaspoons Ener-G egg replacer mixed with 2 tablespoons rice milk
3 tablespoons rice milk
1/2 cup raspberry jam
Confectioners’ sugar, for dusting
Whisk together the flour mix, xanthan gum, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the shortening, granulated sugar, and brown sugar on medium speed, beating until fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add the vanilla, lemon zest, and egg replacer. Mix for about 20 seconds.
Add the flour mixture to the bowl in three batches, mixing on low, alternating with the rice milk, and scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary, until the dough comes together.
Divide the dough into two balls. Form into disks, wrap in waxed paper or plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 2 hours.
Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
Sprinkle flour mix on your work surface and your rolling pin. Remove one disk of dough from the fridge. Sprinkle a little of the flour mix onto both sides of the dough. Use the palm of your hand to flatten the disk, then roll out the dough to 1/8 inch thick. (It will be a little stiff at first but will soften up fast. Pinch the edges together with your fingers the first go-around, if necessary.)
Cut into 12 heart shapes using a 3-inch heart-shaped cookie cutter. Cut out the center from half the shapes with a 2-inch heart-shaped cookie cutter. Using a metal spatula, carefully transfer the shapes to the baking sheet, about 1 inch apart. Repeat with the remaining dough and scraps until you have 12 whole hearts, 12 hearts with the centers cut out, and about 12 bite-size hearts. Put the baking sheets in the fridge to chill the cookies again.
Preheat the oven to 325°F.
Bake in the center of the oven for 15 minutes, or until just slightly golden, rotating the pan halfway through. Let cool for 10 minutes on the baking sheet before transferring to a cooling rack to cool completely.
Once the cookies have cooled, spread the large whole hearts with the raspberry jam. Sift the confectioners’ sugar over the hearts with the centers cut out and the small bite-size hearts. Top the large whole hearts with an open heart.
“Reprinted with permission from The Allergen-Free Baker’s Handbook: How to Bake Without Gluten, Wheat, Dairy, Eggs, Soy, Peanuts, Tree Nuts, and Sesame by Cybele Pascal, copyright © 2009. Published by Celestial Arts, an imprint of the Crown Publishing Group. Photo credit: Chugrad McAndrews.”