Online support for food allergies

Erika Baltes created a food allergy group on Facebook after her son Zane had an anaphylactic reaction to peanut butter. Picture: Jon Hewson d418987a
Erika Baltes created a food allergy group on Facebook after her son Zane had an anaphylactic reaction to peanut butter. Picture: Jon Hewson d418987a

It was eight months ago that Zane (4) was exposed to peanut butter and within a few moments, his airways began to swell and he started gasping for breath.

Without rapid medical treatment he would die.

Zane was rushed to hospital where he was given an adrenaline injection along with steroids and antihistamines.

In that moment, Miss Baltes feared she might lose her child, something no parent should experience.

‘It was an overnight stay at Rockingham General Hospital, (then) he was released with an EpiPen, a DVD and told to avoid all nuts and peanuts,’ she said.

She said the life-threatening dangers of severe allergies and need to follow guidelines were still not grasped by the wider community.

‘Imagine worrying every time you feed your child new food whether this will cause a life threatening allergic reaction,’ she said. ‘It is very frustrating, lonely and scary to have a child that can die from breathing nut dust.

‘This can be a scary time for a parent, help can be hard to find and unless you are directly dealing with this type of allergy, it can be a hard concept to grasp.’

The mother of three said she wanted to help other parents of children with allergies, by offering useful information and someone to talk it through with.

It prompted her to create the Food Allergy Group WA Facebook page where parents can share information on foods, products and act as a support group for those with children recently diagnosed.

‘Just knowing another parent is dealing with the same issues can make the day to day hurdles easier to overcome,’ she said.

Miss Baltes said not all schools have an allergy policy and it is mainly left up to parents to adhere to general guidelines.

She said Department of Education and Anaphylaxis Management Guidelines were just ‘guidelines’. Miss Baltes has developed her own guide and shared it on her Facebook page.

‘There are some simple things that must be done to keep a child with a severe food allergy safe while they are in the care of our school system,’ she said.

Search for Food Allergy Group WA.