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Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Life Before FAAN

I just read a great article on Anne Munoz Furlong the founder of FAAN. This organization has made a significant contribution to the allergy community and is a true success story despite its (at times vocal) critics on the message boards. It is amazing to think about what things were like 22 years ago when Munoz Furlong's daughter was found to have anaphylaxis and food allergy. It puts things in perspective: "(Munoz Furlong) would have welcomed a quick accurate diagnosis, a telephone support line and newsletters to consult, food labels identifying allergens, and cookbooks with allergen-free recipes. None of these resources were available." Sounds like we have it much better. I am not sure how you would manage an allergy in that support-free environment. Parents with newly-diagnosed cases of food allergy have much to be thankful for!

In the article, Munoz Furlong neatly articulates some of the biggest issues facing those with allergies. "The greatest challenge people with food allergies face today is 'convincing other people that food allergies are real ... that every bite can cause a serious reaction ... that it's a real concern, to a child, to know that birthday cake was made with milk or another allergen....The general public needs to understand there is no break, no seasonal component [as with hay fever] ... you have to eat. You have to have help from other people."

It takes a village ... FAAN has made a positive contribution.


Julie Campbell said...

FAAN needs to take the next big step: a huge advertising campaign to educate the general community. It's done such a great job educating all of us in the allergy community but now it needs to make a major breakthrough. Public service announcements on the Disney channel, Channel One, Cartoon Network, PBS and MTV for the teens.

NoPeanuts said...

I totally agree. You make a very insightful point, one that highlights the core challenge for FAAN. Though it is important to promote allergy safety to parents and schools, that audience is more receptive and the general public is largely unaware of the severity of the issues we face as parents. I am a fan of FAAN but this is a great comment!