Professor Katie Allen is standing behind the ‘1 in 10’ of Australian infants who will develop a food allergy by leading Allergy & Anaphylaxis Australia’s Food Allergy Week (May 13 – 19, 2013).
Allergy & Anaphylaxis Australia encourage everyone to paint one fingernail out of ten this Food Allergy Week and donate at http://www.foodallergyaware.com.au Paediatric gastroenterologist and Allergist Prof Katie Allen from the Murdoch Childrens Research Institute is leading a major research study into food allergies - the first of its kind in the world. The study aims to understand how to prevent food allergy, how to prevent food allergic children from having adverse events and ultimately how to prevent progression of allergic disease later in life.
Prof Allen’s research has found several reasons as to why Australia has the highest reported incidence of food allergy in the world. These include: what food infants eat in the first year of life, their exposure to microbes in the environment and vitamin D deficiency. “What is exciting about these factors is that they are all modifiable and to do with the modern lifestyle. If proven, they may be able to reverse the current food allergy epidemic”, says Prof Allen.
Allergy & Anaphylaxis Australia President Maria Said believes Australia was not prepared for, nor is keeping up with, the current prevalence of food allergies: “There is a shortage of allergy resources, including allergy specialists, across the country which means individuals at risk lack timely access to diagnosis. This puts people already at risk of anaphylaxis at an even greater risk because people need to be shown how to manage food allergy in the real world.”
“It is not just the person with the food allergy that this this affects – it’s everyone around them. Approximately 10 Australians die from anaphylaxis each year. These deaths are mainly the result of reactions to insect stings and medication, followed by food. The risk of dying from food allergy is extremely rare - but try telling that to a parent who has lost a child with a food allergy. As far as I’m concerned one death is one death too many. We all need to care about food allergy – every one of us is somehow affected”, Ms Said continued.
Other high profile ambassadors for the campaign include Speaker of the House of Representatives Anna Burke, Comedian Peter Helliar and Anthony “Blue Wiggle” Fields - all of whom have children with food allergies.
Life threatening allergic reactions (anaphylaxis) in children aged under five years old have increased fivefold over the last 10 years in Australia. There is no cure. Complete avoidance is the only way to prevent an allergic food reaction. Education and management is key.
Fundraising is crucial to help Allergy & Anaphylaxis Australia support the thousands of Australians who need information, guidance and advice every day. Go to www.foodallergyaware.com.au to find out more. Paint and donate!