This is one of the most heartbreaking stories you will ever hear. 13-year-old Natalie Giorgi died earlier this summer due to her severe peanut allergy after eating a Rice Krispies treat that contained traces of peanut. The last words she said before losing her life were, “I’m sorry, Mom.”
Natalie’s parents Louis and Joanne are obviously devastated at the loss of their daughter, but they’re hoping their story will help others understand that peanut allergies can be deadly. ”This can be a catalyst for a paradigm shift, much the way seat belt use has changed since when we were kids,” Louis Giorgi told KCRA in Sacramento. According to KCRA, “The Giorgis want schools to take action to limit the potential of peanut exposure in classrooms and cafeterias. They want parents whose children don’t have a food allergy to understand the life-threatening nature of them, and to eliminate peanut products at kids’ sporting events.”
Natalie’s mother stressed that when a child has a severe peanut allergy, keeping them away from peanut products isn’t “helicopter parenting,” it’s “trying to keep our children alive.” Louis Giorgi added that parents and schools need to have an action plan in place if a child suffers anaphylaxis from peanut exposure. ”If you have to search for an EPI-Pen, there won’t be time,” he told KCRA. “You need to be prepared with a plan and you need to practice, much like a fire drill.”
Louis and Joanne created The Natalie Giorgi Sunshine Foundation in memory of their daughter, which will advocate for children with life-threatening allergies. KCRA reports, “The Giorgis want Natalie’s death to serve as the beginning a new movement to understand, accept and change people’s behavior when it come to the growing diagnosis of food allergies.”
According to a Princeton University publication, “Experts now say about 1 percent of the American population has a reported peanut allergy.” The cause of peanut allergy still remains unknown, but “researchers are using genetic and molecular testing” to determine the cause. Peter Conrad, a medical sociologist at Brandeis University, says peanut allergy is a “relatively rare disorder,” but “has become seen as a public risk and even as a childhood epidemic.” He adds, “While the individual risk is high, the risk on a population level is small.”
It’s noteworthy that when it comes to food allergies, “eight foods account for over 90 percent of food allergy reactions, including milk, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, fish, shellfish, soy and wheat.” What sets peanut allergy reactions apart from the rest is the severity of the reaction when an allergic party is exposed to the food, which is likely why peanut allergies have gained the most attention in the media.
Photo credit: iStock