Photo Courtesy Allergy Apparel
In the past 10 years, food allergies have increased 20 percent in America, says Dr. Michael Blumberg, managing partner and director of clinical research with Virginia Adult and Pediatric Allergy and Asthma. Reactions often go well beyond a rash and shouldn't be taken lightly, he adds. In fact, there are between 50,000 and 70,000 emergency-room visits each year because of severe reactions to everything from egg whites to wheat, Blumberg says. And it's easy to see why when you consider that peanuts, for instance, can be found in ice cream, sauces and baked goods, making that allergen hard to avoid.
Of the roughly 12 million Americans who have food allergies, 6 percent to 8 percent are children, Blumberg says. Most of these kids are aware of their allergies, but sometimes it's the adults who need a little reminder at a birthday party or during snacktime at school. "Even my closest friends forget," says Theresa Marie Green, whose 4-year-old son River was diagnosed with peanut and tree-nut allergies three years ago. For that reason, in November 2008, Green launched Allergy Apparel. The clothes — T-shirts and hoodies to be followed by accessories and board shorts — feature a skull-and-crossbones design along with the allergen that pertains to that child. "I used a skull and crossbones because it's also the sign for poison, and for some of our kids, food is poison," Green says.
The clothing also serves another purpose: "They help with awareness of the problem, but in a way that's supportive and doesn't make people anxious," says Blumberg, who displays Allergy Apparel products in his offices. For more information, visit allergyapparel.com .