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July 16, 2013 06:11 PM

SD Food Allergy Support Group

Sioux Falls, SD

A growing number of children across the nation are battling food allergies.

While some have just minor allergies, others aren't able to eat or even touch certain foods for fear of a life-threatening reaction. As you could imagine, that can be extremely stressful and overwhelming for parents.

Five-year-old Kadance Coughlin isn't a very picky eater. That's a good thing, considering there's a whole list of foods she can't eat.

"The doctor handed me a list of about 50 ingredients that we had to avoid or she would be anaphylactic," Kadance's Mother Krista Coughlin said.

At nine-months-old, Kadance had her first bite of baby yogurt.

"She got a rash around her mouth and then within a minute or two she had vomited and then went limp like a noodle," Coughlin said.

Doctors discovered Kadance is allergic to peanuts, tree nuts and dairy products.

"How overwhelming that was to get this entire list and think, 'How am I going to feed my child.'" Coughlin said.

That's why Coughlin has started a food allergy support group for other parents like her.

"What works for one family might not work for another, but just even knowing anybody who has any idea of the fear you have, the constant fear of are we going to run into it again," Coughlin said.

Avera pediatrician Sam Schimelpfenig agrees it can take a village to raise a child with food allergies, especially when a reaction can be life-threatening.

"The big thing for the kids who have severe allergies is that they have their EpiPen with them and they know how to use it," Schimelpfenig said.

Another tip is to develop a food allergy plan and give it to the people who might be supervising your kid, including daycare providers or teachers.

"Being comfortable especially when you're at a restaurant asking people about it. Sometimes people say they don't want to make a fuss, but really say, 'Is the food I'm eating peanut free? Is it cooked in the same pan that has peanuts in it,'" Schimelpfenig said.

Because as Krista found out the hard way, sometimes just a touch is too much.

“As a food allergy parent you tend to go through this process of seclusion where you don't want to go anywhere. It's too scary to go anywhere," Coughlin said.

The South Dakota Food Allergy Support Group meets once a month. Visit their website or their Facebook page more information.

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