How to avoid food allergy catastrophes during the holidays was the topic of conversation on a recent KVUE-TV interview with Board Certified Allergist, Allen K. Lieberman,MD, of Austin Family Allergy & Asthma, located in Austin, Texas. The topic was top of mind due to a recent fatality of an 11-year old boy due to a food allergy to nuts by inadvertently consuming them in a cake. To WATCH the KVUE interview with Dr. Lieberman, click on the link is located at the bottom of this post.
KVUE-TV: Why is this time of year seem to be particularly worse for those with food allergies?
Dr. Lieberman: I believe there are a number of factors. During the holidays, people are more likely to be traveling as was the case here, with the 11-year old boy. They were visiting family and friends. Children with allergies are at risk when outside their home environment and the protective “bubble” they usually have set up in their own home. Also with the holidays, this child’s episode was associated with Thanksgiving. During the holidays, typically food is more available, being served as dinners, snacks or simply sitting on tables and counters to munch on throughout these festive times. And, much of the food isn’t labeled, such as in a potluck situation. So, the exposure risk to potentially dangerous food rises dramatically.
KVUE-TV: Did the family know the child had a food allergy?
Dr. Lieberman: Yes, the family was aware he was allergic to peanuts and tree nuts. However, his previous reactions were on the mild side. Although they were careful, and did their best to avoid allergic foods, they apparently didn’t realize that a previous mild reaction can react more severely in the future.
KVUE-TV: Did the family have epinephrine?
Dr. Lieberman: We know from hearing about the tragedy that epi was not used. I am unsure if the family had an epi injector, or it simply was not available. The child also had a history of severe asthma. The two greatest risk factors for a fatality are poorly controlled asthma, and delay in the use of giving epinephrine, via an Epi-injector. At Austin Family Allergy & Asthma, we instruct our families to shoot the epi first, then ask questions later when there isn’t any risk of a reaction. Food allergy fatalities fortunately are a rare event but always a tragedy such as the case of this young boy.
KVUE-TV: Tell us what the family has done?
Dr. Lieberman: The boy’s family has used this highly unfortunate event as an opportunity to spread awareness. They have started The Red Sneakers Foundation in memory of their son. Redsneaker.org is a website devoted to this cause. No doubt, raising awareness will result in lives saved in the future.
Board Certified Allergist Doctors Allen K. Lieberman, MD and Hetu Parekh, MD treat the WHOLE patient — and family members of ALL ages. Conditions treated are a wide array of allergies, cedar fever, hay fever, asthma, and food allergy issues. Same day or next day appointments are available at Austin Family Allergy & Asthma. Call 512-346-7936 to book an appointment today. Sí, hablamos español.