For the first time in Indiana, the state is recognizing Food Allergy Awareness Week. And it's happening because of a local mom whose son is severely allergic to peanuts.
 
You can't be too careful in Erica Andert's house.

"We always, always check out labels," says Andert.

Andert's Lakeville home is peanut free -- nothing that enters her home or pantry has peanuts in it.

"The slightest. It could set a reaction off," says Andert.

The reason Andert is so careful: Her 6 year old son has a severe allergy. She discovered the peanut allergy when he was 1-year-old -- he took a bite of a peanut butter sandwich.

"It wasn't even two minutes," says Andert, "he broke out in hives all over his entire body."

She rushed him to the hospital and got there just in time. Her son could have died. 5 years later it still makes her upset to think about it.

"He was turning blue. His back was turning blue, his legs. He was a year old," says Andert.

The Andert family is not alone. According to the Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Network, an estimated 8 percent of children in the country have a food allergy. That number has been steadily rising over the past several years. The scary thing is, researchers really don't know why. So all parents are left to do is deal with it.

"Food allergy is definitely on the rise," says South Bend Clinic allergist Christina Barnes. She is seeing more patients with different kinds of food allergies every year -- and not only is there no cure, but doctors don't know why the numbers are increasing.

That is why Andert she wants to educate as many people as possible about her son's challenges.

"That is why I do what I do everyday. That is why I feel food allergy awareness week is so important," says Andert, "cause people need to be aware of it. And understand it is serious, it is a very serious thing."

There are hundreds of fatalities each year caused by food allergies. According to Dr. Barnes, many of those people died because they didn't have an Epipen available. It basically delivers a shot of Epinephrine and can save a life.

Andert wrote to the governor asking that the state acknowledge Food Allergy Awareness week. The Governor granted her request.

Andert also runs a local support group for other parents and families dealing with food allergies.

The Michiana Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Support
Contact: (574)210-4378
MFAAS@ymail.com

http://www.facebook.com/MichianaFoodAllergyAnaphylaxisSupport