Renée-Maude Jalbert leave EpiPens everywhere her 5-year-old daughter Eva goes, but managing her child’s severe allergy to nuts and peanuts has been challenging — especially since she works for Krispy Kernels.  

“Nuts and peanuts have always been around the house because I work with the product,” she says. Of her four children, Eva is the only one with an allergy to nuts.

“We used to eat peanut butter and Nutella every morning, but now I have my jar of peanut butter at work, and I eat my toast at work,” Jalbert continues.

She and Eva were two of the people at Saturday’s public conference held by the Quebec food allergy association at Complexe Desjardins.

The association says a significant growth in food allergies over the past decade meant that it was time to get people together to talk about them.

Jalbert says she went to the conference on Saturday to talk with parents whose children also have serious food allergies and to find out about research and new products on the market meant to help those with allergies.

She says Eva’s venture into kindergarten was stressful because she can’t control what other kids and parents take to the school.

She says her daughter was hospitalized twice for ingesting peanuts, but she is now more aware of her allergies.

“We still control it pretty well because she's always with us most of the time, but when she's going to be older and she's going to go play with her friends, we're going to stress,” Jalbert says.

Dr. Moshe Ben-Shoshan of the Montreal Children’s Hospital says desensitization is a promising new approach because it exposes children to good bacteria under controlled conditions to help their immune systems develop correctly.

“You progressively introduce the food you are allergic to under the supervision of the clinic,” he explains.

The hospital is starting a new desensitization research project next week, Ben-Shoshan says.