Food Allergy Counseling: Lessons From a Teen Food Allergy Tragedy by Allergic Living

At the beginning of August, my colleague Elizabeth Landau of reported on this tragic storyFriday was the last day of vacation for Natalie Giorgi. The 13-year-old took a bite of a dessert at the summer camp where her family was staying, but spit it out because something didn't seem right. Later that evening, she was pronounced dead. Natalie died of a severe allergic reaction to peanut butter, CNN affiliate KXTV reported. Her sudden death in California is especially alarming for the food allergy community because, according to a family friend's account to KXTV, Natalie received three epinephrine injections. As Elizabeth Landau mentions, the Natalie’s tragic death was all the more shocking because she was given epinephrine, “…the only treatment known to prevent a serious allergic reaction from turning deadly.” And still it wasn’t enough. 

Allergic Living magazine tackled this question and more from two reknowned allergists and leaders in the field. An excerpt: 

Allergic Living: Parents are also struggling with how to talk with their kids about the potential dangers of their conditions, and cases like Natalie’s. What do you advise?

Dr Robert Wood: My feeling is there’s no benefit to talking about death in the preschool- or school-age years. When the child is literally a year old, the message is that foods can make you sick and you need to be careful. And then it becomes a little more specific: you can’t eat anything that I don’t approve or provide for you, because it can make you sick. As the child becomes late school-age, early adolescence, then talking about fatality is completely appropriate. So depending on the maturity of the child, that’s when they’re 10, 11, 12. All it will do to a 6-year-old is upset them. They can’t conceptualize that to a point that there’s any value to it.

I urge you to read the Allergic Living article in it’s entirety. Being informed arms you and you in turn will arm your food allergic loved ones.

My suggestions:

  • Discuss the article with your board certified medical provider. 
  • Go over your anaphylaxis action plan
  • Have your epinephrine auotinjector and emergency medications on you at all times 
  • Don't hesitate to use them

Thank you Allergic Living  for your incredibly support and advocacy for the food allergic community.


Lillian said…
Thank you for considering what to say to our children and what kinds of conversations to have at different ages.
Gratefulfoodie said…
Excellent and extremely valuable post. I think parents struggle with sharing too much with their little ones or too little.

This posts provided some rock solid guidance regarding the topic of fatal food allergies. I've see teen develop eating disorders when they realize their mortality.

Thanks for bringing in the experts..including you!

Popular Posts