Actress Julie Bowen, who was awarded her second Emmy last Sunday for her role on the hit TV show “Modern Family,” recently opened up about her son’s severe food allergies. This week, Bowen begins raising awareness of life-threatening childhood allergies as she spearheads a nationwide awareness campaign.
Bowen, a mother of three, knows just how serious such allergies can be. Her oldest son, Oliver Phillips, experienced his first anaphylactic reaction when he was just 2 years old. A bite of peanut butter, coupled with a bee string, prompted the reaction.
Bowen explained “We had no reason to suspect we might have a problem. He had had peanuts before. And he had always been fine.” But after the peanut butter and bee sting incident, his face swelled up, and he began experiencing other serious symptoms of an allergic reaction. Oliver was rushed to the hospital, and immediately given an epinephrine injection. His parents now carry an EpiPen with them wherever they go.
Educating Parents and School Staffers About Allergic Reactions
She recently discussed her new role as allergy awareness spokesperson, commenting “The goal is education. We, as parents, can’t always be with our children all day, every day. So we want the people around them to be educated.” She added that many allergic reactions occur at school. According to the CDC, as many as a quarter of anaphylaxis reactions at school happen to students who have no previously known allergies.
Bowen commented that the message is clear: you never know how severe a reaction may be. She cautioned “I know that for a lot of people it can start off less dramatically… Reactions that start out small can get stronger. It’s an individual thing.” She also noted that parents and school employees should pay attention to children’s complaints of symptoms. ” We want parents and teachers to know the signs, so that if you see them coughing, scratching at their throat some, or that they’ve got some rash, that you go ahead and look into it further,” she said.
She concluded by urging parents to seek help if they suspect their child may have an allergy. “Call 911 if necessary and get medical attention immediately. Because there’s no way to guarantee that your child is never going to have an anaphylactic reaction.”