I feel guilty every time I look at my son. Guilty that his is riddled with Chicken Pox scars because his skin was so sensitive after severe Eczema and strong steroids. Guilty that I didn’t recognise his allergies and understand their effects sooner. And guilty that none of us enjoyed his precious baby months because he was in so much pain.
But none of it is my fault. As much as I can say that it is difficult to accept. Yet I fought to get him diagnosis and treatment. I fought against lax GPs, poor advice from consultants and a system that fails to offer joined up care to diagnose and treat allergies.
National Allergy Strategy meeting
That is why I went to the House of Commons today to speak at a meeting of the National Allergy Strategy Group about the inadequate care available. The stories were shocking, heartbreaking and oh so familiar.
Two health visitors shared case studies of families who had babies with undiagnosed allergies and it was like they were reading about our family. I almost broke down in tears. The screaming baby, anxious sleep deprived parents, ill-informed health professionals and the helplessness and despair.
It was great to hear from so many people keen and determined to make a difference but it takes a lot more than stories shared in a room full of like-minded individuals. It takes campaigning, awareness, education and support from community level to parliament.
CMPA is the most common allergy in infants, affecting up to 7% children, and can cause colic, eczema and gastrointestinal symptoms in babies or more severe reactions and anaphylaxis like J suffered. Understanding the symptoms, early diagnosis and the proper support for parents are key.
You can help raise awareness by adding a cowprint ribbon to your social media feeds, taking part in the fundraising day on 28th November or just sharing the information with friends and family.
I don’t expect things to change quickly – the NASG spoke about how they have been calling for changes for 10 years and facing constant hurdles. However, the more we all talk about allergies, educate others and launch our own personal campaigns, the more we can do to make our voices and those of our children heard and stop others suffering needlessly.