SIKESTON, MO (KFVS) - Doctors say the number of kids with deadly food allergies has been increasing in recent years. While experts do not know the cause, they say parents should look out for allergic symptoms in their children.
"If they [parents] are concerned, they need testing, they need to discuss it with a professional and that would be a board certified allergist," Dr. Janna Tuck said.
Before doctors found out her son has food allergies, Melissa Arnold's son had been sick for years.
"He has been sick since birth with stomach issues," Arnold said. "As of May, when we found out, we have completely cut those out of his diet. He's a whole different boy."
Arnold says her six-year-old carries an EpiPen with him at all times, but that doesn't stop her from worrying.
"My fear is when I send him off to school, is he going to be ok? Am I going to be able to put my arms around him that night? It's scary," Arnold said.
Shannon Clay's son has a severe peanut allergy.
"We give him the most normal life we can," Clay said. "He plays in sports. He does everything that every other 10-year-old boy will do but since food is a big part of most social settings, we always have to make sure he is fed first, or we have to ask, 'What are you going to do about food.'"
Dr. Tuck says these moms are right on track with keeping dangerous food from their kids.
"There is no allergy shot or medicine to treat you so you can eat the food currently," Dr. Tuck said.
Dr. Tuck says experts do not know the cause of the allergies. According to research, it could be genetic, random, or even due to excessive cleanliness.
"There is one called the Hygiene Hypothesis that says since we are so clean now and that we use antibiotics when we really shouldn't that our immune systems is shifted over to the allergic side versus the infection fighting side," Dr. Tuck said.
According to Dr. Tuck, parents shouldn't be as careful as once thought.
"Very small babies should only eat formula, don't introduce allergenic food, well we realize that that's probably not a very good thing, all things in moderation, you know the saying, all things in moderation, truly looks to be the case," Dr. Tuck said.
For now, Arnold and Clay are asking for one thing from everyone.
"Say a prayer for them," Clay said. "All we are looking for is a cure and awareness."
Dr. Tuck suggests the following resources for allergy concerns:
Melissa Arnold recommends the following support groups for parents of kids with allergies: