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February '07 Bulletin
(Meeting held: 2/7)

"Protect Allergic Kids' Crusade to Keep Food Allergic Kids Safe"

On February 8th Protect Allergic Kids (PAK), a recently formed non-profit organization, held a food allergy informational meeting at Sachem’s Tamarac Elementary School in Holtsville. PAK's medical advisor, Dr. Daniel Mayer from Allergy & Immunology of Smithtown, spoke to Suffolk County residents about the latest information on food allergies. Dr. Mayer addressed the latest research studies being conducted on food allergies, advice on how to keep kids safe in day cares and schools, information on genetically modified organisms, the correlation of food allergies to asthma and eczema, as well as information on new allergic diseases such as EE (eosinophilic disease). Food allergy research does not show any definitive conclusions and there is no cure. Prevention to exposure of allergic food is the only way to protect allergic children at this time.

According to FAAN, 12 million Americans suffer from food allergies. The peanut allergy has doubled since 1997. There is concern about genetically modified organisms (GMOs), introduced in 1996. The FDA is now allowing meat, milk and produce to be genetically modified with no warning to consumers. A fish protein is now being used by some ice cream manufactures, which could cause life threatening reactions to people with severe fish allergies. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) has not been tracking food allergy deaths in this country but is working with FAAN to change this. FANN estimates about 200 deaths are related to allergic reactions in this country.

Five million kids have life threatening severe food allergies in the United States. 1.5 million kids have the peanut allergy. And the allergy seems to be increasing in younger children. In New York State, there are no required guidelines for schools to follow to protect food allergic children. Under the 504 (disability) plan, food allergic children's needs are evaluated individually. For some parents, it is a battle to get school aides to provide oversight for food allergy children. However, Cristina Stainkamp's 6 year old son has an aide whenever he is around food at school, thanks to the Sachem Public School District’s food allergy protocol. PAK supports legislation that protects allergic children, including the two Federal bills the Senate’s S6436 and the Assembly’s A2166, requiring kids to carry epi pens. Epi pens provide injections of epinephrine, which may help save lives of allergic children during a severe reaction.

Cristina Stainkamp and Alisha Coupe, PAK co-founders, both have children with life threatening food allergies and asthma. They created a support group for parents and caregivers, as well as a school and library program. “These ladies are amazing, said Sarah Anker, Chairperson of Community Health and Environment Coalition of Long Island. I have two children with severe food allergies and I am so happy that Cristina and Alisha have moved this issue into this important direction of awareness and support. I encourage everyone to attend their monthly meetings to learn more about food allergy awareness.”

PAK's mission is to raise food allergy awareness and educate people on how to keep food allergic kids safe.