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Three Essential Resources for Chicagoans with Food Allergies

There’s an app for that.

Food Allergy Support and Education at Lurie Children’s Hospital

This program allows kids ages 7 to 13 with food allergies to talk with peers who get it — the awkwardness of declining a cookie from a friend, the pain of bullying, the embarrassment of having to ask someone what he or she ate before going in for a kiss. Those are just a few of the challenges allergist Sarah Boudreau-Romano — who has children with food allergies — helps kids navigate during regular hangouts at Lurie. “Your doctor says you’re allergic to this and this and sends you home,” she says. “But you still have to live through birthday parties, family holidays, lunchtime.”

Spokin app
Spokin lets users post reviews of everything from restaurants to airlines based on how they handle allergens.  Photo: Courtesy of Spokin

Food Allergy Treatment Talk

Stacey Sturner, a parent of allergic kids and a conference coordinator at SOAAR, started this Facebook group three years ago to combat “so many people playing doctor and giving really bad advice,” as she puts it. The 7,000 members can post questions about treatments such as oral immunotherapy, as well as research that’s coming down the pike. If you respond with advice or make claims about treatments, though, you’d better have a study to back it up. Top doctors from institutions like the Cleveland Clinic also weigh in. Banned from the group: rash photos, doctor bashing, and absolutely any debate about vaccines.

Spokin

Bucktown resident Susie Hultquist, a former investment manager whose daughter is allergic to peanuts, got the idea for a food-allergy-management app while searching for a safe variety of Girl Scout cookies. It took her 15 minutes to track one down. Users can connect with others who share their sensitivities and can post reviews of everything from restaurants and packaged foods to airlines on the basis of how they handle allergens — for example, whether ice cream that’s labeled as eggless is actually produced in a dedicated egg-free facility. The app’s newest feature: an auto-injector manager that alerts you to recalls and upcoming expiration dates.

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