Telling your allergic child about allergy related deaths

This last week we have been reading the tragic stories of 2 teens who have lost their lives to a food allergy.  A young man, 19 yrs old in Plymouth, Mass and a young girl 12 years old in Canada.  It has been up till now that I have been discussing these terrible events with only my husband or an occasional friend.  Sometimes, I don’t even wish to talk about food allergies, just let the stories go round and round in my mind deciding the best time to bring up the consequences of an accidental ingestion with my pre-teen.

This morning over a quiet breakfast with my allergic child I asked him if he was up for a serious conversation ? He responded “sure” and was worried that something was wrong in our family, ” Everything is fine  – mom just wants to chat about some precautions about your food allergies” I said. ” I figured this talk was coming soon”, he said.  I proceeded to tell my 11 year old,who is allergic to seafood and tree nuts, that in the last week two teens have passed away due to severe allergic reactions.  He was so concerned about them and their families and told me he never thought of actually dying from a reaction.  I reminded him that many people have had severe reactions and been just fine; but the key is that they were prepared and got treatment right away. “That is why it is so so important to carry your Epinephrine injector and antihistamine with you ! ” , I looked deeply into his eyes and held his hand while I said  “even if it seems like a pain or you hate having it in your pocket”.   We talked further about as he goes off with friends for outings that he needs to tell the server at the restaurant what he is allergic to; we concluded that it was embarassing to him to always mention the allergy, but remember if you eat your allergen it will make you sick and you need to PROTECT yourself !

As our very serious conversation was winding down, he profoundly mentioned how his generation will soon be adults and there are so many other people with food allergies that society will need to make accommodations for those with food allergies so we can be safe and keep the world evolving.  ” I’m very proud of you, thanks for being such a great kid”  I replied.


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