NWA mom shares info about scary food allergies, FPIES

Guest post by Carrie Summers of Cradle Rocking Mama

Next time you stop by your child’s school, take a peek in one of the classrooms.

As you look over the 25-30 children lined up in their desks, think about this: at least two of them have food allergies.

Current statistics show that approximately 1 out of every 13 children has a food allergy (8% of all children). Of those afflicted, 30% are allergic to multiple foods.

Carrie Summers' kids
Carrie’s adorable boys!

Little known facts like those are one of the reasons FARE (Food Allergy Research & Education) began FAAW (Food Allergy Awareness Week) back in 1998. They realized that most people truly had no idea of what food allergies were, how they affected lives, and the number of people living with food allergies.

This year FAAW was last week with the campaign of “stop food allergy bullying”. That is a worthy goal, and one that I’m sure we can all support. But for me, it’s a little too early to worry about that. My children are only 3 and 1 years old, and are not yet of an age to be bullied for anything!

For my family, our focus was on a different sort of allergy: FPIES.

FPIES stands for Food Protein Induced Enterocolitis Syndrome. It is a rare non-anaphylactic allergy that affects the gastrointestinal system with delayed reactions. Within a few hours of eating a trigger food, an FPIES child will begin to experience a wide variety of symptoms, including profuse vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy and, if left untreated, can lead to shock requiring hospitalization.

Our youngest son has FPIES, which we learned after he was emergency helicoptered to Arkansas Children’s Hospital last July at 7 weeks old.

So little is known about this rare, mysterious disease, that I quickly discovered the best source of information to help our family came from reading blogs written by FPIES Mom’s. Because of the amazing help these blogs were to my family, I began blogging our own families story almost immediately, in hopes that it might help even one family help keep their child healthy.

Through my blog and frequent contact with other FPIES Mom’s, I became involved in the FPIES Foundation, a non-profit whose “mission is dedicated to overcoming the challenges of Food Protein- Induced Enterocolitis Syndrome by offering tools for education, support, and advocacy to empower families and the medical community”.

This year, the FPIES Foundation chose as their theme for FAAW “Awareness is Action”. I was honored to write the kick-off post for their week of awareness building, in which I explained why awareness matters, and what the FPIES Foundation hoped to accomplish during FAAW.

For my personal efforts, I blogged about awareness issues and made a video showing my son, Zac, doing something I’m sure most of your children have done many times – and that most of you take for granted. For the first time in his 11 months on earth, he was able to walk around the play area of a Chick-fil-A! I was overjoyed at this display of normality for my child, and sad because it likely will not happen again for a very long time.

With FAAW this month, I would like to encourage you to take some time to learn about food allergies. They affect so many people – maybe even people you know and interact with daily!

Make yourself aware so you can help your children’s friends feel normal – and safe. Make yourself aware so you understand how hard life can be when you walk the path of the food allergic. Please, for my children, I ask you to make yourself aware.

I dream of a life for my sons that is not limited by food; a life where they will never feel left out, where they will never eat something that will sicken the just to feel normal. You can help me achieve that dream by being aware, and teaching your children to be aware, too.

Thank you for taking the time to learn more about food allergies and FPIES!

Carrie, croppedCarrie Summers is the lone source of estrogen in the male dominated Cradle household; chief cook and bottle washer, medical advocate and diaper changer. The married mother of two also earns her kibble as a Flight Attendant. She lives in NW Arkansas with her husband and sons, and blogs about Real Food, FPIES, Fructose Malabsorption, Family, and life with her two AMAZING little boys at www.cradlerockingmama.com.