A problem shared…

A problem shared…GP and mother-of-four Clare Bailey gives her indispensable advice: How do I keep my allergic granddaughter safe on a visit?

  • Dr Clare Bailey advises how to be cautious around food allergies with children 
  • READ MORE: My daughter struggles to make friends

Q My four-year-old granddaughter has a serious allergy to milk. She is coming to stay for a few days without her parents.

I am thrilled but it feels quite a responsibility, not least because we have a family get-together with cousins in a restaurant.

My daughter has shown me how to use the adrenaline injection.

And I don’t want to be fussing or to hover over her, but I am still worried about inadvertent contamination.

How can I ensure she doesn’t have a reaction?

An anonymous reader has expressed worry at their four-year-old granddaughter, who has a ‘serious allergy to milk’, coming to stay over. Stock image used

A It must be wonderful, but daunting, to have your granddaughter to stay. Looking after a child with a food allergy can be incredibly stressful, especially as she’s extremely sensitive to a particular food.

A food allergy occurs when the body’s immune system over-reacts to a specific food and causes a reaction.

Most allergic reactions are mild, causing symptoms such as itching, swelling around the eyes and face, or even the lips, mouth and tongue, as well as vomiting. Some, though, can be much more serious.

Along with milk, the most common causes of food allergies in children are eggs, nuts, fish and shellfish.

As many as five per cent of children under the age of five have food allergies, and the numbers are increasing. Thankfully, most children outgrow them.

So what can you do to keep your grandchild safe?

As you know, there are medicines which can help settle symptoms, such as anti-histamines, and an adrenaline auto-injector, which your granddaughter carries, in case of a potentially life-threatening reaction.

Ensure the medications haven’t been left at home and that you and others know how to use the auto-injector in an emergency.

Dr Clare Bailey, pictured, advises how to be cautious and prepared around food allergies with children

Before she arrives, clear the fridge and surfaces of milk and milk products. When it comes to packaged, processed foods, read all the labels carefully as ingredients in products change.

Wash cutlery, pans and plates that might have been in contact with milk. Wash your hands and rinse your mouth before you are in contact or kiss her.

Eating out needs planning. Contact the restaurant in advance and check out the menu. Don’t feel embarrassed to stress to those around you the danger of inadvertent contact.

Warn the staff about the allergy, and check how they prepare food and ingredients used. If they are not clear, speak to the chef. Buffets and shared foods are most likely to lead to contamination.

Carry a food allergy card, which you can download from the internet to give to the server, so they can share the information with colleagues and take it seriously.

A serious allergic reaction (anaphylaxis), can be life threatening, involving breathing difficulties, trouble swallowing or speaking, or feeling dizzy or faint.

In the unlikely event of a severe reaction, use the adrenaline auto-injection. Call 999, ask for an ambulance (even if she feels better), and tell the operator you think the person is having a severe allergic reaction.

For more information, visit allergyuk.org

Yes, you can boost a brain with sardines 

They are affordable, easy to pan fry or grill, and have a lovely texture and a robust taste, which goes well with any flavour

Most of us are not getting enough Omega-3.

Yet eating as little as two portions of oily fish — such as sardines — a week can improve brain and heart health, as well as reduce inflammation and some chronic diseases.

They are affordable, easy to pan fry or grill, and have a lovely texture and a robust taste, which goes well with any flavour. 

You can write to Clare at [email protected] or Daily Mail, 9 Derry Street, London W8 5HY. 

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