EAACI Allergy Awareness Campaign

Are you “trapped by allergy”? A new allergy awareness campaign has arrived in Europe that focuses specifically on food allergy and anaphylaxis during the next two months.

The European Academy of Allergy and Clinical Immunology (EAACI), which hosted the Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Meeting I attended in Dublin last fall, launched its allergy awareness campaign in June 2014. It started in Copenhagen, where EAACI hosted its annual congress, using a street marketing campaign that featured the message of people being “trapped by allergy.”

“Allergy is a condition that affects people’s lifestyle and ability to work. An allergic person can fear insignificant things with which we come into contact on a daily basis, such as plants, pets, insects, food or drugs, and this leads them to feel trapped in their condition.” —EAACI President Nikolaos G. Papadopoulos

For more information about the June 2014 launch of this campaign, check out EAACI’s press release or see the video below that highlights the street campaign in Copenhagen.


EAACI’s Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Wave

On March 9, 2015, EAACI released a third press release (the second press release focused on asthma) to begin the food allergy and anaphylaxis wave of its allergy awareness campaign.

In all, EAACI estimates that over 17 million Europeans have a food allergy. Furthermore, it reports that 1 out of every 20 children has at least one food allergy. Over the last decade, food allergy cases have doubled, with a 7-fold increase in the number of hospitalizations caused by severe allergic reactions. Given these numbers, EAACI finds that “more awareness and education is needed to improve management of food allergies and anaphylaxis.”

During March and April 2015, according to the campaign website, EAACI will have an online campaign targeting five countries: Italy, France, Germany, Spain and the United Kingdom. It also plans to disseminate printed materials via primary care organizations, patient organizations, national allergy societies and pharmacist organizations.

What are your initial thoughts on EAACI’s allergy awareness campaign? I’m curious to hear what you think about it. Please leave a comment below, when you have the chance. I’ll continue to share information via Facebook and Twitter, as I learn more about this campaign.

Finally, if you are interested in getting involved with this EAACI’s campaign, check out the campaign website for additional resources and information.

Beware of Allergy

Food Allergy Support Groups in Switzerland

Outside of the doctor’s office, when you’re in need of some additional food allergy support and advice from people who can relate to your situation, there are several patient groups in Switzerland that can help. I’m highlighting three of them below—and each represents a different language—French, English or German.

Group’s name: Founded in: Primary language: How to find them:
Allergissima
2014 French
Switzerland Food Allergy Network 2015 English
  • Facebook
    (closed group)*
Verein Erdnussallergie und Anaphylaxie 2011 German
  • Website (in German and English)
  • Facebook (closed group, “Forum  Erdnussallergie und Anaphylaxie”)*

*For Facebook’s closed groups, you can search for the group name while logged into Facebook and request permission to join the group.


Allergissima

Allergissima was started by Anita Fossaluzza Schopfer, who you may already know from the allergy-friendly cookbook she published in 2012: Recettes pour faire la nique aux allergies. Her son was originally diagnosed with 13 different food allergies. This organization is working to improve the quality of life for people living with food allergies and intolerances. Some example activities include organizing or participating in conferences and preparing articles or other written materials on food allergies.

You can learn more about Allergissima by visiting its website, Facebook page or sending an email to info@allergissima.ch.


Switzerland Food Allergy Network

Of these three support groups, Switzerland Food Allergy Network is the newest one. Using a closed group on Facebook, it allows members to join and share information privately about current research, allergy-friendly restaurants and allergist recommendations, for example. Ali, an American who lives in the canton of Vaud, started the group to help connect with other English-speakers living with food allergies in Switzerland. She has a 4-year old son who was diagnosed with 18 different food allergies at 10 months of age.

To request membership to the Switzerland Food Allergy Network, you can do so by searching for the group’s name via Facebook.


Verein Erdnussallergie und Anaphylaxie

I’ve written about Verein Erdnussallergie und Anaphylaxie (i.e., “Peanut allergy and anaphylaxis club“) before, as this group’s founder, Angelica Dünner earned an aha! award in October 2014 from the Centre d’Allergie Suisse. Like the other group’s founders mentioned above, she is also the mother of a child with food allergies. This group provides information for and about food allergy sufferersprimarily individuals with peanut allergy and those who experience anaphylaxisand for parents of children with such allergies.

For more information about this group, you can visit their website, request membership to their closed group via Facebook (“Forum Erdnussallergie und Anaphylaxie”) or contact them directly with your questions.


Additional resources
:

  • In Switzerland, if you would like to start your own food allergy support group or locate existing groups, you can contact La Fondation Info-Entraide Suisse, which helps people who want to start self-help groups for a variety of health-related topics.
  • In the United Kingdom, Allergy UK maintains a support contact network of individuals who can provide support and advice to people living with food allergies.
  • In the United States, Food Allergy Research & Education (FARE) has information to help people start their own support groups or you can use its online search tool to identify existing support groups in your area.

If you know of any other food allergy support groups in Switzerland, please let us know by leaving a comment below.

Finally, you may have seen that I’m raising funds for Allergy UK by running in the Royal Parks Foundation Half-Marathon in October 2015. Is there any chance you would consider sponsoring me? If so, I would really appreciate it if you would make an online donation via my JustGiving page. Thanks in advance for your help!

JustGiving - Sponsor me now!

aha! 2014 Awards and a Giveaway

On Wednesday, October 23, the aha! Allergiezentrum Schweiz (Swiss Allergy Center) held its 2014 awards ceremony at the Bern Stadttheater. I somehow snagged an invitation to this year’s event. The thoughtful staff members at aha! are often fielding my questions via email, and it was such a pleasure getting the chance to meet them all in person. I was also excited to learn about the people and projects receiving awards, as they represent some important new opportunities to increase awareness and improve the quality of life for children and adolescents living with food allergies in Switzerland.

Stadttheater Bern

Bern Stadttheater

Unfortunately for me, all the speeches and presentations during this event were in Swiss German, but I guess that’s to be expected on the other side of the Röstigraben! Thankfully, the French version of the written program and the PowerPoint presentations helped me to follow along. To learn about the award winners, aha! has information on its website in German and French. Three projects shared the grand prize this year, all with a particular focus on peanut allergy and anaphylaxis. Here’s my quick summary of the 2014 grand prize winners:

  • Angelica Dünner: Erdnussallergie und Anaphylaxie (Peanut Allergy and Anaphylaxis) is a nonprofit organization based in Zurich that provides information for people living with food allergies, which Ms. Dünner helped to create three years ago. In 2014, among other activities, Ms. Dunner obtained permission from Food Allergy Research & Education in the United States to translate into French and German two children’s books about Alexander, an elephant with a peanut allergy. You can purchase these books via the organization’s website. When my 3-year old starts school next year, I’m planning to order a copy for his new classroom. I’ve exchanged emails with Ms. Dünner several times in the last year or two, and I was delighted to finally meet her. Her group is doing important work in Switzerland, so please consider becoming a member today.

  • Dr. Alice Köhli: At the Universitäts-Kinderspital Zürich (University Children’s Hospital) in Zurich, Dr. Köhli is the head of the Allergologie department. She has been working in collaboration with Ms. Dünner to offer food allergy and anaphylaxis training for parents, teachers and other caregivers of children with food allergies. The purpose is to help prevent anaphylaxis and to teach people how to respond to severe allergic reactions, should they occur. To date, these workshops have only been offered in German.

  • Dr. Ferdinanda Pini-Züger: For the Canton of Zurich, Dr. Pini-Züger is the director of the Sektor Schulärztlicher Dienst (School Medical Sector). Also working with Ms. Dünner, Dr. Pini- Züger helped introduce informational sheets for parents and teachers on peanut and tree nuts allergies and anaphylaxis. She also helped to develop a legal agreement between parents and the school district on how to manage food allergies in the classroom, based on existing primary school law. According to aha!, this is the first time informational sheets on food allergies have been prepared by a school district and shared on their website. This project is of great interest to me, and working with aha!, I would like to develop a similar set of materials in French for my son’s school.
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The view from my seat before the aha! 2014 award ceremony

Congratulations again to the three deserving winners of the aha! 2014 award, and a special thanks to the generous aha! staff members for allowing me to attend the ceremony. I hope these projects can be replicated soon in other regions of Switzerland and in different languages, namely French and Italian. I will continue to follow their progress and share updates in the future.


A Peanut-Free and Tree Nut-Free Giveaway

Giveaway prize 3516x2463

You could win these products! Please read the instructions below.

Since peanut and tree nut allergies were a focus of this year’s aha! awards—and one of the kind organizers of the 2014 Food Allergy Bloggers Conference just sent me a complementary box of allergy-friendly products—I wanted to share some of these treats by trying my first-ever giveaway. Here are the details, if you’re interested in entering:

  • How to enter: Please leave a comment below with the answer to this question—What is your favorite allergy-friendly product?
  • Deadline: Saturday, November 8 at 12:00 PM (Swiss time). I will randomly select a winner and announce their name in a comment below on Monday, November 10.
  • What you win: I will send to you, wherever you are, a box of peanut-free and tree nut-free goodies, including:

Full Disclosure: As I mentioned, I received a complementary box of allergy-friendly products from the Food Allergy Blogger Conference. However, I did not receive any compensation from the Food Allergy Blogger Conference or from any of the product manufacturers listed above, nor I was expected to hold a giveaway via Dairy-Free Switzerland with these products. Any opinions expressed in this or other posts on Dairy-Free Switzerland are solely my own. The King Arthur Flour Golden Flax Meal is my contribution to the giveaway. As always, please read labels carefully to make sure these products do not contain any of your known allergens.

I hope you all had a wonderful (and safe) Halloween and an excellent weekend. Thanks in advance for those of you entering my giveaway, and good luck!

Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Meeting 2014: Dublin, Ireland

As a parent of a child with food allergies, I am always seeking out the latest news and research in an effort to improve my son’s overall health and quality of life. For this reason, I attended Europe’s leading conference on food allergies: the Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Meeting (FAAM) in Dublin, hosted by the European Academy of Allergy and Clinical Immunology (EAACI). With about 600 participants from roughly 50 countries, the multidisciplinary seminars at FAAM 2014 covered various topics related to managing food allergies, as well as prevention and finding a cure.

2014-10-11 08.27.52

EAACI represents doctors, researchers and other medical professionals. It has over 7,800 individual members and also works with National Societies and patient organizations, such as the aha! Swiss Allergy Center in Bern. Most recently, I wrote about EAACI’s efforts to raise awareness of food allergies via a written declaration on allergic disease presented before the European Parliament.


FAAM 2014: A Few Highlights

The FAAM 2014 seminars spanned over three days, and nearly 200 abstracts were presented as part of the conference. In the coming weeks and months, you’ll notice that these seminars will be informing many of my future blog posts, as well as the management of our son’s allergies (e.g., requesting a consultation with a nutritionist). In the meantime, I just wanted to share a few of the key findings presented at the conference that I found especially interesting.

Public Policy

  • Mr. Jerry Buttimer TD (Ireland), a member of the Irish Parliament, said that if President Barack Obama can sign into law a bill encouraging schools in the United States to have access to epinephrine (a.k.a. adrenaline) auto-injectors, then surely a similar law could be passed across Europe. Mr. Buttimer was referring to the School Access to Emergency Epinephrine Act (H.R. 2094), which enables states to pass legislation requiring schools to carry “stock” epinephrine auto-injectors for emergency use.

Socioeconomic Costs

  • Dr. Audrey Dunn Galvin (Ireland), a registered physiologist and lecturer at the University College Cork, presented her research on the socioeconomic cost of food allergies. She discussed the high levels of stress and anxiety that parents can experience due to the constant monitoring of their child’s food allergies. In particular, she discussed how parents must balance the need to protect their child’s environment, while ensuring their positive development. In addition, she mentioned several recent studies socioeconomic costs, including a study of adults with food allergies in Sweden.

Oral Food Challenges

  • Dr. Carina Venter (United Kingdom) talked about food challenges as the best way to identify a true food allergy, and questioned the reliability of self-reported data to determine the prevalence of food allergies. Overall, she stressed the need for more and better data on food allergy prevalence, particularly to evaluate changes over time. As part of her presentation, Dr. Venter discussed her research on trends in the prevalence of peanut allergies in the UK.
  • Dr. Galvin’s research on the socioeconomic impact of food allergies found that routine oral food challenges help to improve health-related quality of life for families living with food allergies. From our own experience, I certainly find this to be true, as food challenges have either allowed us to introduce new foods into our son’s diet or have provided us with greater knowledge and awareness of his allergies, even though he didn’t “pass” the test.

Anaphylaxis

  • Dr. Margitta Worm (Germany) discussed her research examining an anaphylaxis registry for German-speaking countries, including Switzerland. Her study found that adrenaline was rarely used. More specifically, for the emergency treatment of anaphylaxis among 197 children and adolescents between 2006 and 2009, adrenaline was used in only 22 percent of the registered cases.

Oral Immunotherapy

  • Dr. Kirsten Beyer (Germany) described oral immunotherapy (OIT) as a promising treatment for allergies, but highlighted that it is not yet ready for clinical practice. She said that many different protocols exist for OIT, which makes it difficult to compare results and assess its effectiveness. Generally, researchers agree on three primary phases for this treatment: 1) a starting dose, 2) dose escalation and 3) a maintenance dose. During her presentation, she cited a recent study on the side effects of OIT for peanut allergy.

You can also review the tweets from other FAAM 2014 participants by searching for the event hashtag via Twitter: #FAAM2014.


EAACI Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Guidelines

Throughout FAAM 2014, presenters referred to the EAACI Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Guidelines, which were published earlier this year. The purpose of these guidelines is to translate knowledge of food allergies into clinical practice, and in particular, for such areas as diagnosis and management, prevention, quality of life and anaphylaxis. EAACI included a hard copy of these guidelines as part of the printed materials I received during the conference, and I will be sharing what I learn as I review them. While the full document is only available for EAACI members to download, sections of the guidelines are also via the EAACI website.

I will continue to provides updates on the research presented at FAAM 2014, and next week, I also plan on sharing a recipe from our excursion to Northern Ireland. Bon week-end, everyone! Thanks for your continued support.

Traveling to Dublin: Food Allergy Conference

I’m in the final stages of packing for our family trip to Dublin, in part so I can attend the third annual Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Meeting (FAAM) 2014 presented by the European Academy of Allergy and Clinical Immunology (EAACI). For every trip we take—no matter where we’re going and especially if we’re flying—I prepare a “food bag” for my son with allergy-friendly treats and back-up meal options. Today, I made madeleines in the morning, and a batch of saffron buns just came out of the oven.

Allergy-friendly treats 3183x2425.12

Allergy-friendly food for my son, sans dairy and (raw/undercooked) eggs

FAAM 2014 will be a great opportunity for me to hear from allergists working throughout Europe. To give you some background info on this conference, according to the EAACI website:

“The FAAM 2014 scientific programme has three integrated and complimentary plenaries, presenting the basic, translational and clinical science of food allergy and anaphylaxis. The final plenary weaves these themes together addressing how we hope to help patients move from merely controlling their food allergy – which is difficult for them – to a cure – which is proving difficult for us.”

For those on Twitter, I’ll take a stab at live-tweeting from the event, providing highlights of what’s being presented and by whom. I look forward to sharing with you what I learn in Dublin in the coming days and weeks.

By the way, if you have any recommendations for allergy-friendly restaurants or products in Dublin (or Belfast), please leave a comment below! Thanks in advance for your help.