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Families Face Challenges From Food Allergies

The Journal of the American Medical Association says across the nation, between 4% and 6% of children under the age of 18 have food allergies. And avoiding food allergy reactions can be a major trial for families.
SPRINGFIELD, Mo. -- In a follow up story this morning, food allergies are costing families more and more each year.
Last week we told you about a new study that has the annual cost to prevent food allergies is into the billions.

The Journal of the American Medical Association says across the nation, between 4% and 6% of children under the age of 18 have food allergies.
Combine the costs of medical fees and additional yearly costs, that makes for an estimated national average of $25 billion per year.

That computes to just over $4,000 per child. And avoiding food allergy reactions can be a major trial for families. 

Jennifer Rozell has two daughters... 

And when her oldest daughter, Carlee, was just 18 months old,  "Got a little of peanut butter close to her lip and it just blew up,"  Rozell recalls.

Jennifer and her husband rushed Carlee to the hospital to get a blood test.

"It showed there she was off the charts... Allergic to peanuts."

Two years later jennifer had another daughter, Mackenzie.  This time precautionary steps were taken.

"We just had her tested... and she too," Rozell says.

Two daughters - both with a severe peanut allergy

"One of the first things we taught them how to read was the word peanut," Rozell says.

The whole family always aware of that one alarming word. 

"It was very scary because within minutes you could lose your airway and die."

She checked every item at the grocery store and every item at every restaurant.

"If someone says I think it's ok, that doesn't work."

But those places, Jennifer could control. When she wasnt around,  "It was really difficult, not knowing what was going to happen that day, if you were going to get a phone call," she says.

And while jennifer had one eye on her daughters she had the other on finances.

"(You) can't just buy and the cheapest thing on sale because that may have peanut traces," she says.

With specific grocery needs along with medical costs,  Jennifer is not surprised by the national average of $4,000 per child when it comes making sure a loved one is protected from food allergies.

Both of Jennifer's daughters are now in college.

And even though they are allergic to peanuts, throughout their entire lives they have been able to eat walnuts, pecans, and almonds if not cross contaminated with peanuts.
Peanuts are not nuts. They are a legume which is the bean family.

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