Antoinette Barallon shares her story.

There are a lot of food allergies in our family. My stepson has food allergies, so I was always aware they could happen in children. I first discovered my eldest child, Sarah, had food allergies when she was four to six months old. I fed her yoghurt and she broke out in hives. Her skin became red and irritated and she was crying and screaming. It was immediately clear to me that it was an allergic reaction. Our GP sent us to an immunologist and Sarah was diagnosed with multiple food allergies, including a severe allergy to peanuts.

When I had my son, I was cautious

With Jamie, because his sister had food allergies, I was cautious when I introduced foods to him as a baby. When I first gave him a tiny bit of egg, he vomited and had some respiratory distress – a cough. He was about a year old and I'd only given him a thumbnail size of egg white. He also saw an immunologist and he tested positive to eggs.

I stringently avoid the foods that the kids are allergic to. I am always reading ingredients and check food labels to ensure the allergens aren't present. On a social level, my son avoids many food items such as birthday cake due to his allergies. If I do not know what ingredients are in a food, I strictly avoid it. It is not worth the risk.  

I guess one of the few benefits of my kids having allergies is that they are both extremely fit and healthy. They have a great diet and eat really well. To promote good gut health, I buy organic whenever possible and to avoid risks, I prepare all their meals. The downside to food allergies is not knowing how severe a reaction will be. No two reactions are alike. Other aspects that are difficult are the social side, travel and eating out. Cross contamination of foods is a huge concern. A lot of people have been made aware of the kids' allergies but there are some who don't always appreciate how serious they are.

Not a trend or a lifestyle choice

People think it's a lifestyle choice or some sort of trend. It's not. People need to realise that consuming food that you are allergic too, won't just make you ill, it could potentially lead to anaphylaxis. It is absolutely terrifying. 

Both of my kids have grown up with their allergies and it's been important to me to empower them around their allergies. I don't hide things from them; I try to educate them the best I can. They know how serious it is and they know that we take zero risks. My son doesn't want to be allergic to eggs and often questions why. He is only nine and loves cultural foods and tells me he'd like to go eat dinner at a Thai or Indian restaurant. Dining out at these types of restaurants is completely ruled out due to his egg allergy.

A peanut allergy trial cured my daughter

I am beyond thrilled to have my son in the Murdoch Children's Research Institute (MCRI) egg allergy trial. My daughter was in the MCRI peanut allergy treatment trial. It was a long process. It took 18 months of her having the food-based treatment in the clinic and at home but she can now eat peanuts. She was anaphylactic to peanuts but can now eat them like any other food. It is almost bizarre to watch her eat a nut the first time. After the trial doctors gave the all clear, I watched her put one nut in her mouth. I watched her so closely. I was terrified but it was fine. And it has made such a difference to her life. She no longer needs to live in fear of peanuts. Now I want to do this with Jamie, and I'm grateful that there is an egg allergy trial.

I don't want him to have this allergy his whole life

I am hoping Jamie will not be allergic to eggs after the 18 month trial but I appreciate there is no guarantee.  He is now on the maintenance program and consumes the trial product daily. So far, it is looking really, really good.  

This is a trial and I am hoping it leads to a cure that will be available to everyone. This is my big chance as a mother to do something about his allergies before he grows up. I don't want him to have this allergy his whole life. Just think, he could react from simply kissing a girl who's eaten an omelette! I won't know if the treatment given in the trial has been totally successful for another year. 

We are hopefully helping others

What the MCRI researchers are doing with food allergies right here in Australia is remarkable. If these allergy trials are successful they could change the lives of millions of people with food allergies around the world, and we as Australians are at the forefront of this. I tell my children that by taking part in these trials we are helping other people with food allergies. And it's a privilege to be able to do that.

The Murdoch Children's Research Institute is recruiting Melbourne-based children, aged five to 17 years, for its egg-allergy treatment. If you are interested in enrolling your child in the trial email .









Antoinette Barallon with her husband and kids Sarah and Jamie