Hope for the Future

A guest post by Teen Advisory Group member Andrea Schmidt.

Not long ago, I received an email from a wonderful allergen-free food company: “We’re turning 18!” Then I felt old. Okay, maybe I’m only a year and a half older. But this is, pretty uniquely, an “Oh geez, I’m aging!” experience that only someone with food allergies would have. Anyways, it got me thinking about how much progress has been made regarding food allergies in the 19 years of my life, and how much progress I am confident will be made in the future.

When I was diagnosed with food allergies at six months old, nearly all of the quintessential allergen-free brands didn’t even exist yet. It’s hard to imagine, considering the multitude of companies that keep popping up to offer new allergy-friendly foods. But my parents were pretty much on their own finding safe food for me, and it is absolutely remarkable how my mom cooked so much food from scratch.

I know that adults with food allergies (real adults, not college kids like me) can relate even more to experiencing the effects of an unaware public and unaware companies. Yet the changes I have seen over my past 19 years of life, being at the start of a generation with an increased prevalence of food allergies, have been so significant. Schools are getting better, airlines are getting better, and restaurants are getting better. There is more and more research being conducted, as I have been lucky to experience as part of a Phase I trial for a peanut allergy treatment. There is still so much to be done, but I am confident that this progress will continue.