Boy, 3, set to miss out on traditional festive treats… because he’s allergic to CHRISTMAS
A three-year-old boy misses out on all the traditional trappings of the festive season – because he”s effectively allergic to Christmas.
Charlie Smith can”t enjoy chocolate advent calendars, mince pies, cake or even a real Christmas tree in case they trigger a fatal reaction.
Danger lurks in every corner for the youngster from Worcester, who could end up in hospital if he even touches a friend who has eaten a peanut.
Charlie with his mother Jo. She sends her son to parties with a packed lunch so that he doesn”t come in contact with nuts
The Smith family forego a real Christmas tree because it would bring on an asthma attack – and even artificial trees have to be dust-free.
“Charlie”s allergies and asthma mean that Christmas is a dangerous time of year,” his mother Jo, 33, said.
“We have to be so careful to keep him safe all year round, but particularly just now.
“This will be our toughest Christmas yet. We can”t have anything that might have traces of nuts in it, including Christmas cake, Christmas pud and mince pies.
“People buy us boxes of chocolates without thinking about it. It”s not that Charlie can”t have any chocolate, it”s just that I have to be sure to buy chocolate that doesn”t have nuts in.
“Charlie”s big brother Harry is six, and often gets Christmas cards with little chocolates in them from his classmates at school.
“I tell Harry he must make sure he washes his hands as soon as he”s eaten the chocolates, just in case he touches his brother.”
She added: “Christmas parties are difficult, too. “Most of the food tends to be laid out on the table buffet-style. I have to warn the hosts in advance about Charlie”s allergy.
“I have sent his own lunch to parties before when I”ve not been enitely sure that the parents have really taken his allergy on board.”
Charlie Smith can”t enjoy a real Christmas Tree. The family”s artificial tree has to be shaken out in the garden to get rid of dust
The brave little boy”s problems started when he was just 18 months old.
“He was sitting on my dad”s lap, and my dad was eating peanuts,” recalls Jo.
“Suddenly Charlie swelled up and started scratching himself so badly that he began to bleed. It was so scary. We didn”t even think of the peanuts – we just didn”t know what was going on.
“We rushed him up to the bath, washed him down, gave him an antihistamine tablet and applied some cream.
“It was horrific. We couldn”t understand what had affected him so badly.”
At the doctor”s surgery, a skin prick allergy test revealed Charlie had a severe peanut allergy.
“The test for peanuts came up as a massive red blob on his leg,” says Jo, who is married to supermarket manager Dave, 42.
“When you”re told your son has a peanut allergy, you just think “Oh my God!”
“But really we were lucky that we”d discovered his allergy could be set off just by him being touched. We were lucky that the reaction had only affected his skin and didn”t cause his throat to swell, which could have affected his breathing.
“I shudder to think what would have happened if he”d actually eaten a peanut.”
The couple carry special creams, antihistamine tablets and EpiPens with them at all times, so they can treat their son at the first sign of a reaction.
After the diagnosis, the Smiths cleared their kitchen cupboards of any food likely to contain traces of peanuts.
The nursery where Charlie goes have banned nuts and made the whole place nut-free.
Charlie”s allergy is likely to stay with him for life. Doctors do not know why he developed it because no-one else in the family suffers from any allergies.
He also suffers from eczema.
“We had to clear the house of everything that might affect him, and unfortunately that included the cat,” Jo said.
“”It was sad but the children are the most important thing in your life – you have to do what you can for them.”
For more information and advice on allergies visit website www.allergyuk.org