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Food allergies have been on the rise for more than a decade. The number of children diagnosed with a peanut allergy has tripled in the last 15 years.
Researchers are looking for a cause and a cure to what’s being called an epidemic.
“We used to see maybe one to two children in a week and now sometimes we can see 8 to 10 children in a day,” Allen Liberman with the Allergy and Asthma Center of Austin said.
Ian Ohlmeyer’s mother Kati says when her son was first diagnosed with allergies to peanuts, nuts and eggs, their world had changed.
“It became a real struggle between what he could eat safely and what he would eat as a toddler,” Kati said. “The list of available foods got very, very small.”
The bright side of the increasing number is more support and understanding. Years ago, a child could have been the only kid in the fourth grade with a food allergy, and these days, there are often two to a class.
“It takes the whole community to keep these kids safe, and the more people know about food allergies, how to prevent and treat reactions, the safer these kids will be,” Kati said.
Seven-year-old Ian is doing his part. He lets his friends know he can’t always eat what they have.
“I think they should know that if there’s someone with food allergies, to learn more about food allergies,” he said.