Stories about: Food allergy

Ask the Expert: What does the Auvi-Q recall mean for my child?

Auvi-Q (2)


Sanofi has recalled all of its Auvi-Q epinephrine auto injectors from the market. Parents of children who rely on the Auvi-Q need an alternative and a plan for their children.

“Parents should be able to get a replacement for Auvi-Q with very little trouble,” says Dr. John Lee, director of the Boston Children’s Food Allergy Program. Lee provides additional advice for how families can handle the Auvi-Q recall.

Why was the Auvi-Q recalled?

Sanofi recalled the Auvi-Q injectors because it had received 26 reports of the device delivering inaccurate doses of ephinenphrine. No deaths have been reported, but an inaccurate dose can have significant health consequences.

What should I do if my child uses the Auvi-Q injector?

Contact your child’s doctor immediately for a replacement injector from another brand. Parents need to contact a physician for a new prescription; you cannot go to the pharmacy to buy an epinephrine injector without a prescription.

Different devices have different mechanisms, so parents need to be trained how to use the new injector. Ask your pharmacist to show you how the injector works, or go to the manufacturer’s website to review directions for the new injector.

Do NOT dispose of Auvi-Q injectors until you have a replacement. If your child experiences an emergency or goes into anaphylaxis and an Auvi-Q is the only option available, you should use it.

Finally, save any receipts and pharmacy documentation, because Sanofi is reimbursing its customers for the cost of replacement injectors. Visit Auvi-Q for more details.

Boston Children’s patient families can contact the Division of Allergy and Immunology at 617-355-6117 to request a new prescription.

What are the alternatives to Auvi-Q?

The alternatives to Auvi-Q are:

  • EpiPen
  • Adrenaclick
  • Generic equivalents

Will the recall affect other epinephrine injectors?

The recall does not affect other brands, and there is plenty of inventory available to meet the needs of patients and families who rely on epinephrine injectors.

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Saving Grace

Grace 4It may seem like an insignificant thing, but a peanut butter cookie changed Grace Denney’s life forever. Just a small amount of peanut butter triggered an allergic reaction that left years of anxiety in its wake—and eventually lead Grace and her mother Richelle to Boston Children’s Hospital’s Food Allergy Program—which they credit with giving them their lives back.

A sudden onset

Growing up, Grace had always avoided peanuts. There was something about their smell that bothered the young girl so much that she went her first seven years without tasting a single nut or eating even a spoonful of peanut butter. But all that changed one day when she was at a baking event for a local youth ministry group.

Preparing goods for an upcoming bake sale, Grace was part of a team of girls making several types of treats, including a particularly delicious smelling batch of peanut butter and chocolate cookies. Thinking her tastes may have changed, Grace helped herself to one. Moments later her throat felt very dry and scratchy, making it difficult for her to breath, which scared both her and the adults supervising the event. When Richelle picked her daughter up that evening and heard what had happened, she suspected Grace might have had an allergic reaction and quickly made an appointment with an allergist.

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Six tips for throwing a (food allergy-friendly) kids’ party

Birthday-partyAs food allergies become more and more common—researchers estimate that up to 15 million Americans now have food allergies—there’s a good chance that you’ll soon find yourself hosting a birthday party where one or more of the guests has some type of allergy or dietary restriction. For parents of children without an allergy, it can be an intimidating prospect.

  • How do I keep track of all the things he’s allergic too?
  • What do I do if she has a reaction?
  • Will I have to administer an EpiPen? Will it hurt her if I do it wrong?

And while a bit of nervousness is natural, there’s no reason to panic: Hosting an allergy-friendly party takes a little extra planning and coordination, but for the most part it’s easy. To help, here are six tips on throwing an allergy-friendly kids’ party from the experts at Boston Children’s Food Allergy Program.

Get to know your guests early.

As host, you’re in charge of the party’s venue, menu and all other logistics. To make sure your eventual plans are safe and fun for all guests, you’ll need to do a little information gathering beforehand. On the invitations (or in an accompanying email), ask parents if their child has any allergies or special requirements you should know about. If you already have menu ideas in mind, let the parents know early. This way, if any complications do arrive, you’ll have plenty of time to reconsider or make a few adjustments as needed.

Keeping kids safe is a team effort; embrace it. 

Just because it’s your child’s party doesn’t mean that guest safety is your responsibility alone. Many parents of children with food allergy are used to being vigilant about monitoring their children in social situations and will likely be willing to help you keep the party safe. If you know some guests have specific dietary limitations, ask their parents for tips and/or help in preparing and serving safe foods. It will lighten your workload and hopefully lessen any major concerns you may be feeling.

Let someone know if you’re uncomfortable.

Preparation can help alleviate a lot of worry—but it’s not a cure-all. If you find yourself really stressing over the thought of supervising a child with food allergies at the party, talk to her parents about your concerns. They may be able to help supervise or send a sibling, relative or more experienced babysitter along with the child to lend a hand. Asking for help isn’t always easy, but the parents will most likely appreciate your honesty and dedication to keeping their child safe.

Get to know the medications.

If a guest has a serious allergy and will need to bring medications with her—including an auto-injector of epinephrine—make sure her parents provide you with all the information you need. (When is the drug needed, how much is used, and other such question.) Once you’re comfortable with what each medication does and the circumstances in which it may be needed, make sure you keep them in a safe, accessible place.

Location. Location. Location.

Birthday-cakeBowls of finger food like chips, snack mix and fruit are great party treats because they allow kids to take as much as they like as they come and go. But unless children are washing their hands constantly (highly unlikely), having multiple bowls of foods in one area can really raise the risk of cross contamination.

For instance, if a partygoer helps himself to a handful of a snack mix containing peanuts, then reaches for the grapes, he may accidentally get peanut crumbs on the grapes, making them potentially dangerous for some guests.

Save the fanfare for the birthday boy.

When a food allergic guest arrives, possibly with her own treats or snacks, be discrete. Welcome her as you would any other guest, and as an aside, let her know that you’ve already talked with her parents and that you’re here to make sure she’s safe. Tell her to feel free to come to you with any questions about the food or if she needs any special help.

If you’re planning on the traditional cake and singing, but one of the guests can’t eat cake, have a special treat for her waiting to go.

Making the child feel safe—but not singled out—is important in making the party more fun for everyone.

“There’s a sizable segment of children and teenagers with food allergies who say the worst part about living with the condition is the social isolation they often feel,” says John Lee, MD, director of Boston Children’s Food Allergy Program. “Parents of children without an allergy should try to keep this in mind when planning social events. Taking even a few extra steps to make guests with food allergy feel included could make a big difference in the life of a child.”

To speak with a member of Boston Children’s Food Allergy Program, please visit their website.  

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Food allergy awareness starts at home

Joshua Feblowitz is a Thrive contributor who has lived with severe food allergies his whole life. In the following post he has advice for parents on how they can empower their food-allergic children to play a bigger role in their managing their allergies.

Joshua and his allergist at Children’s Hospital Boston, Lynda Schneider, MD

Growing up with food allergies, I always had to be aware of my condition, but felt confident that it wouldn’t hold me back. If I was visiting a friend’s house, I could pack a special snack. If foods were unfamiliar, I could read ingredient labels and recognize what was safe. And if there was a class party, thanks to a little extra work by mother… allergen-free treats for everyone! I was sure there wasn’t a situation that my parents and I couldn’t handle.

Today, I can appreciate that what appeared so simple back then was the result of how hard my parents worked each and every day. They were constantly vigilant about ingredients, but they also provided a world of support that went far beyond food. I know now that my allergies seemed manageable because they were looking out for not just my safety, but also my well-being.

As all parents of food-allergic children know, caring for them isn’t just about reading ingredient labels and cooking special meals. Equally important and challenging is the task of helping your child adjust and feel confident in managing their allergies themselves. In honor of Food Allergy Awareness Week (May 8-13), I talked with Jennifer LeBovidge, PhD, a clinical psychologist at Children’s Hospital Boston, to learn more about how parents can help their children cope with a diagnosis of food allergies. Here are some things you can do to help your child adjust:

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