Mum speaks about son's serious allergies
For many people the only things they consider when choosing food is how it will taste and perhaps its nutritional value.
But Claire and Matthew Rawlinson have many more things to think about when feeding 22-month-old son Stanley.
The toddler has a host of allergies and they are so serious that they could prove to be life-threatening.
Mrs Rawlinson, who lives in Orrell, said: “From being quite young he had severe eczema and when he started weaning, he was very poorly.
“He would be very sick and he would get hives all over his body and started to swell up. He started losing weight because every time he ate he was sick.”
Tests were carried out and Stanley was found to have an anaphylactic allergy to peanuts and eggs.
Mrs Rawlinson, 35, added: “Since then, as he has tried more food, it’s become apparent that he’s allergic to a variety of other things.”
The list of Stanley’s allergies now includes gluten, milk, cheese, soya, tomato, honey and dust mites.
Stanley’s reaction to eggs is so severe that he broke out in hives, with swelling and wheezing, when he touched a cake wrapper.
It has meant his parents have had to be extremely cautious about what Stanley eats or even touches.
His mum continued: “It was really hard work at first. I’m not the most skilled at cooking a variety of meals and we have two other boys who don’t have allergies.
“I did a lot of research and spoke to allergy dieticians and other mums.
“He can’t have gluten but a lot of gluten-free bread has egg in. I had to learn how to make bread for him.
“I looked at simple things like a birthday cake - he can’t have the wheat and the egg, so I had to work out how to replace the egg with things like lemonade, for example.”
Stanley’s allergies have proved to be a challenge for the whole family.
Mrs Rawlinson said it is difficult when the family goes out to eat and she usually has to take food along for Stanley.
And she has to make sure her other sons - three-year-old Charlie and seven-year-old Harley - are careful.
“It can be tough,” she said.
“My other little boy is three so trying to make sure he doesn’t share his food with his little brother is hard.
“My other son is seven so he is quite switched on and observant and dives in when someone tries to give him something.
“What we have to do is not have some foods, which is a bit of a shame for the others, but there is too much risk. For example, if I have a cake it’s a Stanley safe cake and everyone has that.”
Mrs Rawlinson has started writing “safe” recipes and shares them with relatives, so they feel comfortable when caring for Stanley.
And she feels fortunate to have good support from Holly Tree Day Nursery in Billinge, which Stanley attends.
She has met nursery staff to discuss his allergies and said the cook had “risen to the challenge” of preparing food for Stanley.
The tot has a pack containing medicine, inhalers and epipens, which can be used if he has a reaction.
Luckily the family’s vigilance has meant Stanley has stayed well.
Mrs Rawlinson said: “So far Stanley has never had an anaphylactic reaction to anything, which is fabulous and long may it continue.
“But he has had severe reactions where he is covered in hives, he’s swollen up and struggled to breathe.”
Mrs Rawlinson now hopes to raise awareness of
She believes there should be more support through the NHS for people affected.
She has had help from charities Anaphylaxis Campaign and Allergy UK, which included putting her in contact with a dietician.
Holly Tree Day Nursery took part in the Anaphylaxis Campaign’s Orange Wig Day on Friday, with children and staff wearing orange wigs to raise awareness of allergies.
To find out more about allergies, go to www.anaphylaxis.org.uk.