Media release: New BBC ALBA documentary to look at allergies


A PROGRAMME which highlights how serious food allergies can be and the tragic consequences for some sufferers is going to be shown during Allergy Awareness Week (April 25 to May 1) on BBC ALBA.

Allergy is considered one of the most common chronic diseases in Europe. It is estimated that 44 per cent of British adults now suffer with at least one allergy and up to 20 per cent of patients struggle daily with the fear of a possible asthma attack, anaphylactic shock or even death from an allergic reaction.

The documentary from Western Isles-based MacTV, offers an informative and emotive insight from individuals and families, showing that food allergies are not something to be taken lightly, and in some situations really can be a matter of life or death.

It tells the heartbreaking story of how Nadim and Tanya Ednan-Laperouse lost their daughter, Natasha, due to an allergic reaction, and how their grief has propelled them to set up a foundation in their daughter’s name to educate, inform and help find a cure for food allergies.

A new ‘Natasha’s Law’ is due to be introduced in England and Northern Ireland in 2021 which will require all food businesses to include full ingredients labelling on pre-packaged foods.

The programme also features Paula McMahon and her 13 year-old daughter, Martha, from Newton Mearns, East Renfrewshire, who was diagnosed with a severe peanut allergy aged 18 months.

Martha, a pupil at St Ninian’s High School in Giffnock, has been taking part in a private medical trial during the last three years for a new immunotherapy treatment at Addenbrooke’s Hospital in Cambridge. This cost her parents £20k and involved exposing her to a small amount of peanut at regular intervals with the aim of de-sensitising her, and it appears that it has worked.

Paula said: “At the start of the trial, Martha had a quarter teaspoon of peanut butter and had a severe allergic reaction that required hospital treatment. After two years of immunotherapy treatment, she was given the equivalent of ten peanuts with no reaction. It’s an amazing result and has given Martha her life back.”

Also featured in the programme, four out of five of Kirsteen Murray’s children have food allergies including gluten, lentils, dairy and nuts. All their meals are prepared at home so she knows exactly what’s in them and they never eat takeaways or ready meals.

Kirsteen, who is originally from Lewis but now lives in Livingston, said: “I make separate meals for the boys who eat gluten and dairy-free food. We can’t all eat that because it is so expensive.

“I don’t think enough people understand the serious danger of allergies. They think allergies make you ill and give you a sore stomach and leave you feeling unwell for a few days.

“If the boys ate something containing milk, like Calum did once when we weren’t aware, his throat was closing up and his mouth started to swell. People don’t realise just how dangerous it is to eat a little bit of the wrong food.”

Trusadh – Food Allergies (A Matter of Life or Death) was produced by MacTV, and airs on Monday, April 27*, BBC ALBA, 9pm -10pm and is available on the BBC iPlayer for 30 days afterwards.

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