FOX47 NEWS - Dealing With Food Allergies

Jeff Angileri
Apr 29, 2008, 10:27 PM

At the Godwin household on madison's east side- they're making cookies.

Like most recipes, ingredients include sugar, brown sugar and chocolate chips.

But unlike most mixes.

No peanut, no tree nut no dairy no gluten, says Sheree Godwin.

That's because Godwin's three kids have food allergies.

Four year old Henry is allergic to dairy, peanuts, tree nuts, peaches and red dye.

For fifteen month old Hanna- its eggs and peanuts.

But six year old Emily has the most severe condition.

When she was first diagnosed, it was wheat, egg, soy, dairy, peanuts, tree nuts, strawberries mango beet and spinach, Sheree Godwin says.

All three kids react differently when exposed to allergens.

Hanna develops eczema.

Henry also gets eczema, but-

If he has a reaction it lasts weeks to months, Godwin says.

Emily's reactions can be fatal.

Three times she had to the emergency room after an anaphylactic reaction to treenuts.

The most recent was last christmas when she ate a piece of chocolate with almonds.

It was about ten minutes after she ate it, the color kind of changed she turned white. With her what happens its a very quick progression from she eats it to the hospital, Godwin says.

Sheree Godwin says she was baffled to find that all three of her kids have food allergies, because she and her husband eric aren't allergic to any foods.

Dr. Neal Jain is an allergist with Dean Clinic on Madison's east side.

We know we don't inherit food allergies from people we know we inherit the genes that pre-expose us to having allergies in general, Jain says.

Dr. Jain says although only one out of 17 kids have food allergies, the numbers are growing.

We don't know why these people are developing these allergies with these increasing frequencies, Jain says.

The allergist says they may not know the cause, but experts do have some ideas.

There is something in the environment that we're being exposed to is contributing to this, Jain says.

Dr. Jain says when he meets with families of children diagnosed with food allergies- he always stresses education.

He says it's the parents who have to be the expert on their child's diet.

The burden falls on the parents who have to work with the schools and other care givers, Jain says.

The Godwin's are a good example.

Each of their kids wears a life alert bracelet which lists their allergies and a contact number in case of emergencies.

And no matter where the kids are, Godwin says someone always knows what to do.

But where ever they go, whether it be a friends house, school, church, who ever their teacher is always knows, and we make sure they know, Godwin says.

Godwin's kids inspired her to become an advocate for spreading awareness about food allergies.

In 2003, Godwin created the Food Allergy Association of Wisconsin.

The group has 200 members from all over the state.

Godwin says the main purpose of the organization is to offer support.

If your child had a reaction, your best friend won't understand like your friend with a child with food allergy understands, Godwin says.

And Godwin is going to need the support next year.

Her daughter Emily will be entering elementary school.

And knowing she can't watch her daughter all the time makes her nervous.

Godwin says even before little Emily starts school, everyone from her teacher to the other students parents will know about her condition, what she can't eat and what to do if she has a reaction.

We'll have to check where she eats and where she sits and there will be a whole plan in place, Godwin says.

For more information about the Food Allergy Association of Wisconsin, visit their website at www.foodallergywis.org

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