I am pleased that the book has received much praise and that there has been a relatively small amount of criticism. Even so, I’d like to address the criticism. I believe it falls into two areas.
It appears that the first main reason is that the discussion of hypotheses, studies and non-traditional forms of medicine outside the officially-already-accepted-and-published set of information was not agreeable to some. A hypothesis is defined as "a proposed explanation for an observable phenomenon." Here are a few from Flourishing:
- There have been no studies that prove probiotics will help cure food allergies, but there was a study that showed probiotics can help prevent food allergies when taken by infants and pregnant women.
- There have been no studies that prove reducing stress in a child’s life and improving their immune systems may help them outgrow their food allergies, but there is information in the book about how this may help.
- There are no studies that prove delayed IgG food allergies are linked to ADHD, autism and asthma, but there are a lot of stories from various physicians and parents who have found success in reducing symptoms and behavior related to these problems, even world class athletes will swear by it.
My response to this criticism is that if a person or their organization will only accept the already-accepted-officially-proven studies, then that person or organization may be limiting themselves and the possible ways to help those dealing with food allergies and the probable related disorders of ADHD, autism and asthma. I can understand that from a liability perspective many professionals are legally obliged not to deviate from the standard. But, I wanted to explore new ideas, theories and studies in my book. I feel it helps people think out-of-the-box, learn, grow and have some hope that in the future there may be cures or treatments for food allergies above and beyond life-long food avoidance.
It appears that the second main reason for criticism of the book is the frustration that many parents felt while trying to figure out “what was wrong” with their child. Why was their child having a cough that would never stop? Why was their child crying all night from eczema that wouldn’t subside? Why was a child being offered intestinal biopsies, brain scans or many medications, when the problem or cause of the problem was food allergy? Parents who I interviewed were frustrated and even angry at times, about how their child was diagnosed, how they were treated and the misinformation that they were given such as an “adult” epi-pen prescription when an epi-pen junior prescription was in order.
My response to this criticism is that I set out to write a book to help parents feel they were not alone and that they could handle food allergies successfully in their child. I randomly selected parents to interview and turned no one away who offered an interview. As the interviews were done, I began to notice a trend─most parents were indeed frustrated with the facts that the physician wasn’t able to diagnose the problems as caused by food allergies in a relatively quick way (some took over a year) and during that period of time a lot of medications were prescribed that would often have undesirable side effects. It was not my intention to make doctors “look bad” by any means. But, I believe that until more research is done and physicians have more official-proven-accepted studies on which to base their beliefs and thus diagnoses, then we have a problem that results in frustrated parents and sick children, not to mention a lot of wasted cost for unnecessary tests and medications that ultimately affect everyone’s health insurance premiums.
For instance, Dr. Fausnight, Assistant Professor of Pediatrics, Allergy and Immunology, Penn State Children's Hospital wrote, “I have just finished the book. I found it very easy to read and it had a pleasant, warm, friendly approach to a scary problem. The personal stories are helpful because readers can find parts with which they identify. However, I did find parts of it a bit frustrating...I would have liked a story about a family that had an encounter with a compassionate allopathic physician, board certified in allergy and immunology, who helped them understand food allergy, navigate the school system, where to vacation…” I think she clearly states the goal that all parents with food-allergic children would like. Although there are many doctors who have these skills, especially those trained in allergy and immunology as is Dr. Fausnight, we need to work together to tip the scales in the direction of having more rather than fewer, especially in the non-specialized more general areas of medicine.
As a community of parents we need to ask the hard questions of our pediatricians to ascertain the correct diagnosis of our children’s symptoms. In doing so, we may need to question them a bit further than we might normally if we don’t understand why our child is having a symptom─sometimes that can take courage. Perhaps we don’t just want a medication to cover up or heal the rash, but rather we want to know the cause of the eczema, cough or asthma for example. In this way, by asking questions, being persistent and getting to the bottom of our children’s issues, together with the physicians we can help the children get better by healing their little immune systems so they can hopefully outgrow their food allergies. In the bigger picture, by raising physician awareness as well as our own, we will hopefully trigger more funding for research on food allergies which will in turn provide more answers, safer testing procedures and perhaps even a cure.
Thank you to everyone who provided feedback. I am most appreciative.