An article in yesterday’s Times quoted figures published by NHS Digital showing that there has been a frightening 40%+ increase in the incidence of anaphylaxis in young children in the last five years – from 601 in 2013/4 to 849 in 2017/8. The figures also show that the incidence of allergy without anaphylaxis in children under 10, rose by 26% from 4,896 to 6,617 and I would suspect that may be a significant underestimate of the numbers actually suffering from allergy without necessarily getting treatment.
The ‘hook’ for the article was the launch an allergy research charity by Nadim and Tanya Ednan-Laperouse, the parents of Natasha who died three years ago from eating an unlabelled sesame seed in a Pret a Manger baguette. Since the results of the inquest were made public last autumn the Ednan-Laperouses have done a truly amazing job not only of raising awareness of the issue, but forcing action out of the government – first with an FSA consultation and then with a new tighter labelling law due to come into force in the summer of 2021.
Nadim, Tanya and a host of Natasha’s friends, Natasha’s army, were all to be found at all three days of the Allergy and FreeFrom Show at Olympia this weekend, signing up new supporters for their charity, Natasha Allergy Research Foundation – narf.org.uk.
The foundation hopes to be able to set up a new global research centre to investigate why serious allergy is increasing so fast and how it can be prevented/cured. They are already in talks with the allergy research centre at Southampton University. But while research into causes and cures are vital, the Ednan Laperouses are also anxious to work to develop management strategies that may help to keep allergic children and young people safe. So watch this space.
Also at the show, although not exhibiting, was Clare Bristow – mum of Sadie, who tragically, like Natasha, died of anaphylaxis in August last year. Sadie was only nine and, despite her asthma and her allergies, was a brilliant tennis player. A Number One Under 9 player in the UK who won 40 tournaments in 2018.
Like Natasha’s parents, Sadie’s parents have set up a foundation in their daughter’s honour – the Sadie Bristow Foundation. They too want to improve allergy awareness and knowledge but, because Sadie was so passionate in her short life about her tennis, they also want to inspire children to discover their true talents through their Tennis in Schools programme.
It is very hard for those of us who are lucky enough not to suffer from a serious allergy to understand the stress of living, everyday, with this allergic time bomb which could explode at any moment, with no warning, and kill you or your child. Until fairly recently the focus in dealing with anaphylaxis, has been on the practical – carrying adrenaline, knowing how to use your auto injector, what foods to avoid, what questions to ask. But there is now an increasing focus on the mental health and the quality of life issues that accompany severe allergy.
This is an aspect of living with anaphylaxis that Ruth of What Allergy? who has lived all her life with three potentially fatal allergies and has suffered two near death experiences in the last 18 months, will be focusing on in the book that she us writing for us now. It will be about the day to day practicalities of living with severe allergy but it will also cover the anxieties of day to day coping and the PTSD that you may suffer if you are unfortunate to suffer a severe anaphylactic shock. Ruth has already written about some her experiences on her blog but there will be much more, plus input from other sufferers and the experts trying to deal with the condition. More details from our new imprint, Curlew Books, very soon.
Meanwhile, please can anyone who has an interest in the subject support those amazingly brave parents who are determined that something good will come out of their own tragedies, even if it is only to prevent such a disaster happening to other families like themselves. You can sign up to/donate to both here:
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