Food allergies like time bomb

ON GUARD: Issac Hughan, 3 of Goonellabah, who has a peanut allergy, gets his lunch made by mum Sharon Williams.
ON GUARD: Issac Hughan, 3 of Goonellabah, who has a peanut allergy, gets his lunch made by mum Sharon Williams. Marc Stapelberg

THREE-year-old Issac Hughan is such a happy and healthy young boy that finding out his body has a collection of severe allergies comes as a shock.

If he simply touches eggs or peanuts and happens to rub his eyes, his body would trigger a potentially fatal anaphylactic reaction within seconds.

Yet Issac's condition is becoming more and more common.

The latest estimates are that three in every 100 children, or almost one in every classroom, has a severe peanut or egg allergy.

Issac was just four months old when he broke out in eczema after mum Sharon Williams ate a cheese souffle, then kissed him on the cheek.

"He had eczema practically head to toe ... his face was a mess, under his little fat spots behind his legs were absolutely a mess ... I'd kiss him good night and he'd break out the next morning," Ms Williams said.

An allergist subsequently confirmed Issac suffered from wide-ranging allergies including a severe sensitivity to eggs and nuts.

He now carries a life-saving adrenaline injector, or epipen, in case of emergencies, and wears a bracelet identifying his allergy.

"We expect a lot of the little fella… he's only three and a half. You don't usually expect a kid of that age to be so aware of what they can and can't eat," his father Dustin said.

"It's pretty scary for us too… you've always got to be on the look-out, constantly reading the ingredients on the back of things to make sure there's no nuts or eggs," Mr Hughan said.

The allergy epidemic is also becoming a bigger worry for teachers and child-carers.

After the death of Sydney high school student Raymond Cho last month, the State Coroner has called for nuts to be restricted in schools and teachers to be formally trained in the use of epipens.

Gold Coast pediatrician and allergist Dr Velencia Soutther said while allergy levels in children had stabilised after a huge upsurge in the 1990s, there was a wider variety than ever before including common foods such as kiwifruits and tree nuts.

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