“Ask Cathy” Food Allergy Advice: Taking Risky Chances with Allergens

Dear Cathy,

My 14-year-old daughter is starting to rebel but is doing so in a completely dangerous way. She is allergic to milk, eggs and peanuts and has been since she was a toddler. I have educated her about cross-contamination, and she knows anaphylaxis is life-threatening. However, she has never experienced an allergic reaction in her living memory, and she seems to not think she is really allergic!

She came home one day and informed me she ate cupcakes at her friend’s house after school and was completely fine, so now she wanted to eat other foods as well. She is very careless with her EpiPen too.

How in the world do I handle this so she understands how dangerous that behavior is? She honestly doesn’t believe me.


Maureen H.,
Boston, MA


Dear, Maureen.

Yikes! This is certainly risky behavior.

If we try to look at it from your daughter’s perspective, she might think you are just being an overprotective parent who has “unfairly” deprived her of having fun. It sounds like she was too young to remember the reactions that led to her diagnosis, so she doesn’t associate these foods with pain or illness.

My best advice is to take her to the allergist again for a re-check. It is entirely possible that she has outgrown her egg and milk allergies, thus making it possible for her to have eaten the cupcakes without a problem. However, the baking process has been shown to make egg and milk ingredients tolerable to people with allergies, and if she were to try to, say, sip on a glass of milk, she might get very sick. And if she tries to eat peanuts, she could experience life-threatening anaphylaxis … doubly alarming if she is not carrying her EpiPen with her!

Taking her to the allergist will allow someone in a position of authority to confirm her allergy status and stress the importance of preventative measures.

It’s normal for teens to rebel against their parents, but hopefully your daughter will be wise enough to take the advice of a medical professional.

She also needs to display a level of maturity and responsibility before she can be trusted to go out with friends.

Write back to let us know how things go at the allergist.




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About Cathy

Cathy is just like you: She worries about food choices, where to eat and whether friends and family will be as careful about food allergens and cross-contamination as you are. She is diligent, and she is also a food allergy warrior.

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