I’m used to hearing about people dying from their food allergies. Every week or so, I am alerted to a death resulting from food allergies because my son is allergic to egg and nuts, so I receive all the horrible news through the groups and social media sites I am a member of.
My first-born, Philip, has been suffering from food allergies for 11 years.
There’s an over-representation of young men who die from food allergies, however most are in the US so for some reason, I’m relieved. If a food allergy death happens in Australia, it makes the threat to my son all too real.
The death of eight-year-old Marcus Terranova at St Ives North After-School Care due to an undiagnosed food allergy has haunted me for the past two years. He was around the same age as my son was at the time of his death. His carers thought he was suffering from an asthma attack after playing after-school sports. Even Marcus thought it was an asthma attack.
It wasn’t. It was an undiagnosed food allergy and it killed him.
Philip has been suffering from food allergies his entire life. At his most recent visit to hospital we were told his allergies are worsening, and he’ll never grow out of them as we had hoped. Article continues after this video.
Marcus’ father John Terranova doesn’t hold the after-school care facility responsible. Nobody does. They gave him his Ventolin but by the time they realised Marcus was in real trouble and the asthma medication wasn’t working, it was much too late.
In the wake of his son’s tragic death, Mr. Terranova is calling for better training for school and childcare staff, better training for those who prepare food for children and increased testing of children at risk of food allergies. He told the Fairfax:
When your child is first diagnosed as having allergies I think there then needs to be a management plan for that child.
He was seeing a dermatologist but the connection between his eczema, asthma and the allergy was not investigated. The focus was always on the asthma. Somewhere along the line someone should have joined the dots.
When there is a family history of eczema, asthma and food allergies, the risk of your own child having food allergies is high. The way food allergy testing and management is run in Australia is a recipe for complete disaster. It’s patchy and under-thought.
It’s completely and totally inadequate.
ALL children should undergo food allergy testing, preferably before they begin solids. It’s a harmless ‘skin prick’ test. Then, children deemed high risk such as those who have had eczema or asthma, should undergo regular allergy testing. It should be covered by Medicare. The fact this hasn’t yet happened astounds me, particularly considering the fact that one in 10 babies born here will have a food allergy and many of those babies will carry those allergies into adulthood.