Should My Non-Food-Allergic Child Also Carry An Epi?

Although my second experience of becoming a mom was a lot smoother than I had feared, I am faced with an entirely new set of dilemmas. You see, when you have a child with and without food allergies, you actually feel as if you gotten ahead of the game the second time. You are prepared when you were not the last time. Your child is prepared. But as with anything in life, once you feel that you are riding along at a nice speed, you hit a bump on the road. This is parenthood; challenges, always and worry, always.

Becoming a parent the second time around was nerve-wracking after having a child with food allergies. While the joy of being pregnant was wonderful, I also had visions of how I would handle another child with allergies as well. Would they have the same food allergies? Would they be different altogether? How would I handle having to manage different allergies and still keep some type of sanity within our home? What did not cross my mind is how I would handle a second child without food allergies. What is amazing is when your child takes the worry from you because they know that it’s what you taught them to do.

My daughter was attending a school trip that included nights away from home. It also included an activity that used shrimp. Although she has not been officially diagnosed with a shrimp allergy, she has noticed that the few times she has had it, her stomach hurts and she doesn’t like the texture of it on her tongue. So we had a dilemma when this trip came about- should she bring epinephrine along with her? The teachers would have it but being brought up in a food allergic home, my daughter was fully aware that being prepared is the first step to safety. She knows that an allergic reaction can happen after you have eaten a food a few times with no obvious symptoms and how quickly it can happen. Quickly meaning if she had to take the time to find the teacher with the epinephrine, it could very well be the time that may mean a trip to the emergency room or worse.

What surprised me from the beginning of this event was the fact that my daughter asked me if she should bring epinephrine versus me going to her about it. She told me she thought it was better to be prepared as opposed to not being prepared. I asked her how she felt about relying on the teachers who would have it with them and she shook her head, explaining that she wanted to have it with her- within reach. I would not be with her, I would not be there to help her if something did happen and my daughter wasn’t afraid of that, she was afraid of not being prepared. She put an Auvi-Q into her bag, packed up her items and nothing else was discussed.

Then, the day of the trip came. It was early, we drove to meet the bus in the darkness of morning and once she found her bus, she began to board. Just like that- no hug, no goodbye, nothing until I spoke up “Hey, what about me?” With a smile, she came to give me a hug and just like that, a piece of my heart was leaving me (even if it was only briefly). For her, the trip was wonderful and me- I spent three days checking my phone and just standing in the emptiness of her room. There is nothing quieter than your child’s empty room. Why am I panicking? Here are some reasons:

  • It is estimated that approximately 15 million people are diagnosed with a food allergy
  • There is no cure for food allergies
  • The first line of treatment for anaphylaxis or ingestion of a known allergen is always epinephrine
  • Always carry two auto injectors in case one malfunctions, is not usable or if a second dose is required
  • Trace amounts of allergens can cause an allergic reaction
  • Biphasic reactions may also occur hours after a reaction seems to be under control

She returned safely and didn’t have to use the auto injector but this has become a new unspoken rule for any trip away from home. Am I a helicopter parent? I used to be but now, I am just a mother who has children that are educated about food allergies. I am the mother that knows that to our family, it’s important to carry an item with us that is literally life saving. My daughter once told me that it’s not just about her being able to use it if she needs it- it’s about having it to save anyone who might need it if we were in a situation where someone was having an allergic reaction. This is our life and who would we be if we couldn’t help someone else? Amidst all of the everyday chaos and our parental worrying, our children don’t hear anything except I need to be safe and I need to keep others safe. This confirmation is worth every single bit of worrying because to me, I feel as if we are saving each other before we even know that we need to be saved.

About the Author

Tracy Bush is the founder and President of Nutrimom, Inc., also known as Nutrimom - Food Allergy Liason, a consulting business that specializes in providing guidance and support for anyone that has been diagnosed with food allergies. Tracy helps others with simple steps, such as finding safe, wholesome foods to supplement allergenic foods, where to shop and how to maximize their budget while adjusting to their dietary change. You can view additional information about what she does as well as her new e-book "The Stepping Stones to Food Allergies" at Tracy is a member of the PedSafe Expert team


One Response to “Should My Non-Food-Allergic Child Also Carry An Epi?”

  1. Stefanie Zucker Stefanie Zucker says:

    Hi Tracy,
    Just curious…were there any issues with the school about the fact that your daughter wasn’t registered as having food allergies but was carrying an Epi device (or was this a don’t ask, don’t tell thing). In general, do schools let kids carry their own meds? Thanks!
    Ps. Loved the article, btw!

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