We were shopping at the supermarket recently and I picked up some crackers, a brand that we regularly buy. Out of habit I started reading the ingredients, while H looked over my shoulder. “Made on a manufacturing line that also handles peanuts!” she said in disbelief and burst into tears. “It’s not fair!” she cried, and I had to agree with her.
You see, H has a peanut allergy that dramatically reduces what we can buy off-the-shelf for her to eat. And when companies change their manufacturing processes, another few products usually drop off the list.
There are a few positives that come with a peanut allergy – I read loads of labels and if I don’t recognise the first three ingredients as a food item, I don’t buy the product, regardless of allergy information. I bake a lot and make a lot and have full control over the ingredients I use…or choose not to use, and as a result, we don’t eat many processed foods. And because allergy information is usually written in the smallest print size possible, I’ve finally gotten around to buying those reading glasses I’ve been in denial about.
The hardest part is vigilance. We can’t become complacent just because we’ve bought the same brand for years – every label has to be checked and we have to ask a lot of questions about food handling, ingredients and preparation before she can eat out anywhere.
After her last major exposure, she was prescribed an epipen, and in Singapore we need to carry two because of ambulance response times and that apparently adrenalin will only be administered in hospital, not in transit. Worrying stuff!
But there’s an upside! An article was published in January by the Guardian about a Melbourne-based study conducted on children with peanut allergies. Over an 18-month period, researchers from the Murdoch Childrens Research Institute gave around 30 allergic children a daily dose of peanut protein together with a probiotic in increasing amounts. By the end of the trial, about 80% of the children could eat a peanut without having a reaction.
So I told H about the trial and how fantastic that it was based in Melbourne. I suggested that if she was interested, we could find out a bit more about it.
She was really excited at the thought that maybe one day she might be able to eat anything she likes, wherever she likes, without fear. The fact that the trials had taken place in Melbourne certainly helped my cause of talking up the city as a good place to live.
We haven’t talked about the trials in any great detail since that initial discussion, but every now and then she’ll mention it. I know that the move is constantly in her thoughts and if something like this can help her think positively about the move, then I fully embrace it. And even better, if she was eligible for the trial and it worked, how fantastic would that be?
If you would like to read the article about the clinical trial and the amazing people who are behind it, please follow the link below: