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Food Allergy Awareness Week

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Food Allergy Awareness Week Media Release
12 – 18 May 2014

The goal for Food Allergy Awareness Week, previously known as Allergy Awareness Week, is to raise awareness about food allergies, anaphylaxis (a life threatening reaction) and the problems families face when living with food allergies.
Food allergy is now a common condition in childhood and affects up to one in ten children under the age of 5 years. It is a complex and stressful condition to manage and yet little understood by others.

Reasons for the increase in food allergies are not known but the impact is mainly on children and their families. Constant vigilance is required to reduce the risk of anaphylaxis, which causes significant stress and anxiety. Many caregivers report having to delay returning to work because of the extra time needed to shop for and prepare safe food, as well as treat eczema which many food allergic children have. They often feel embarrassed at the need to negotiate with others over any situation where food is involved, and many report frustration in dealing with schools and early childhood services. Food allergic children can be the target of bullying.

In New Zealand the situation is compounded by the lack of specialist services particularly outside of Auckland, leading to long waiting times before carers can get an accurate diagnosis and clinical advice on management of their child’s condition.

A critical issue for many at risk of anaphylaxis, as well as their families and communities, is the lack of funding for adrenaline auto-injectors. Anyone diagnosed at risk of anaphylaxis from food or insect venom (bee and wasp) is prescribed an auto-injector and recommended to have with them at all times. However in spite of repeated approaches to Pharmac over the past decade, the Government’s pharmaceutical funding body continues to decline funding. 
Allergy New Zealand has vowed to continue the campaign for funding and fully supports the petition created by Wellington mum, Helen Richardson. The petition has attracted more than 9000 signatures (online and hard copy) and Helen is planning to take her campaign to the house of representatives.

“Is is estimated 1 in 10 children born in New Zealand will develop food allergies and many of these children will have multiple food allergies. A significant number of these children will experience an anaphylactic episode triggered by a food allergen and will be prescribed an adrenaline auto-injector. This is a critical life saving treatment but many kiwis can not afford to fill or renew prescriptions for this treatment and my campaign is about ensuring this inequity is address as a matter of public health policy,” says Helen.

Be Aware, Show You Care.*
 
About Allergy New Zealand:
Allergy New Zealand is a national charity dedicated to providing reliable information, education and support so you can manage your or your child's allergy and live an active and healthy lifestyle.
We also represent their interests particularly to government, policy makers and the media, provide information and guidance to the health, education and food sectors, and support research.
www.allergy.org.nz
 
Want more information? Contact:
Karina Yanez,
Allergy New Zealand Communications Manager
comms@allergy.org.nz
021 0842 2680

*Used with permission from Allergy & Anaphylaxis Australia 2014