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Skeptics add to food allergy burden for parents

Thomas Estey was handed a hamburger on a gluten-free bun by his mother, Lora, at their West Roxbury home.
Thomas Estey was handed a hamburger on a gluten-free bun by his mother, Lora, at their West Roxbury home.Jessica Rinaldi for the Boston Globe

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Lorenda Layne and 2-year-old Sabrina, an energetic girl with severe food allergies, were visiting another allergic child when trouble struck, in the form of a lone Cheerio. Sabrina found the milk-soaked cereal in the crevice of a chair, stuffed it into her mouth, and promptly broke out in hives. Layne and her friend — both self-described “allergy moms” — were upset about Sabrina’s red welts, but something less visible bothered them, too: a missed opportunity.

“Why couldn’t Sabrina have had this reaction in front of our non-allergy friends?” asked Layne, of Norwell. “We know they think we’re crazy for being so vigilant.”

It takes a village to protect a child with allergies, but some parents say managing their kids’ food allergies has strained relations with friends and family, and led to tension with parents of non-allergic classmates. Where does one child’s claim to PB&J end and another child’s claim to a Skippy-free environment begin?

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