Meals under high surveillance

By Audrey SomnardLex Kleren Switch to French for original article

Things as harmless as a cashew nut or a peanut are a constant danger for allergic children. For parents it means trying to avoid the allergen at all costs. Explanations.

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Pistachio shavings in a dessert, a banana in a bowl with nuts, vegetables cooked with peanut oil ‒ for allergy sufferers, this means serious danger. Parents discover their child's allergy at an early age, and the allergists' offices are full. The treatments are hard and very long. In our hygienic society, food allergies are skyrocketing, as Dr Françoise Morel-Codreanu, a paediatric allergist at the Kannerklinik, explains: "Allergic diseases have been on the increase in recent years. Food allergy affects four to eight per cent of children and the peak of eight percent is reached in children under four years old. A proportion of these children have severe allergic reactions. Based on the statistics of the European Academy of Allergology and extrapolating these figures to the population of Luxembourg, 5,000 to 6,000 children suffer from a food allergy, of which almost 3,000 are under four years old."

The beginning of a journey. This is how Pedro Barata, president of the Luxembourg Allergy Network, describes the discovery of his two-year-old daughter's allergy. Pedro's daughter dipped her lips in cashew milk at a friend's house. She had a serious skin reaction. They went to the doctor for tests, but in the meantime the little girl was removed from the day care centre's menu and only ate food without allergens "just in case", explains the father. With a waiting list of almost a year at the Centre hospitalier de Luxembourg (CHL), the family tried to go to a private hospital, but this did not suit them. They then applied to the National Health Fund (CNS) to go to the University Hospital Centre (CHU) in Nancy, where they spent three days undergoing a battery of tests. They went a total of ten times: "It's very hard, even if the CNS reimburses the treatment, you still have to advance the money, not to mention the additional travel costs. It put a strain on our family life", says Pedro, who ended up having the case transferred from Nancy to the CHL, in order to limit travel.

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