herald

Wednesday 18 October 2017

Mums' fears over children's food allergies

ONE in five parents has a child with food allergies, but 60pc of schools have no policy in place to deal with the problem.

In new research carried out by Mummypages.ie, it was also found that 97pc of mothers want epinephrine auto-injectors (EpiPens) made available in public places.

"EpiPens were a big issue in the study, and we spoke to one mother who had to wait four weeks to get one in her local pharmacy," said Laura Haugh of Mummypages.ie.

The study is the most comprehensive research into allergies in children in Ireland to date.

death

"There has been no testing of allergies in Ireland, there has been no national study and there is no government body to deal with allergies. There's very little government support to provide advice," said Ms Haugh.

The survey follows the death of Dublin teenager Emma Sloan last year after she went into shock from an allergy to nuts and was unable to access an EpiPen.

Accessibility to the potentially live-saving devices was among the major concerns of mothers who were questioned.

The survey found that some batches of EpiPens had a shelf life of between only six and nine months and half of the pharmacies polled said they were unsure if they could sell them in an emergency without a prescription.

Of the mothers surveyed, 12pc had witnessed their child go into shock because of an allergic reaction and 20pc said they had experienced difficulty in accessing an EpiPen.

Apart from nuts, the most common food intolerances among Irish children were to eggs and milk.

The research also showed that 82pc of mothers are dissatisfied with the paediatric allergy services available in Ireland.

"We were finding that an increasing number of queries coming in were in relation to allergies so we decided to do our own research and we couldn't believe how high the number of incidences of allergies among children were," said Ms Haugh.

Parents who have children with allergies have to endure waiting lists of up to two years in the public system, and it can cost €300 for a "full battery of tests" when going private.

diagnose

Only 51pc of children with allergy-type symptoms have been medically tested by a specialist.

"What we're trying to do is highlight the lack of support that's out there," said Ms Haugh.

"Parents find out through their child's own unwellness and then they diagnose and treat at home and the children could be missing out on vital nutrients."

Ms Haugh has called on the Government to take serious action in relation to allergy testing.

jfegan@herald.ie

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