A SIMPLE gesture like a touch or a goodnight kiss can have serious implications for Jackie Nevard and her family.
Jackie and her husband reside on the Sunshine Coast with two boys. Their youngest son, Thai, is just three years old and suffers from serious allergies.
He was allergic to egg, nuts, dairy, soy, prawns and strawberries, but he has since grown out of his allergies to prawns, soy and strawberries.
"When Thai was first diagnosed it was very frightening learning just how careful we had to be," she said. "We now see the silver lining and are glad we have been educated."
Living with a family member with allergies is no easy task and Jackie admits it involves a lot of planning.
"Every meal must be safe, every ingredient checked," she said. "Most packaged food and sauces contain at least one of the allergens our son is allergic to. Even going out for just a few hours means planning. We have to carry our own food for our son and an auto-injector (EpiPen) at all times.
"People don't understand the severity of food allergies. Family and friends still eat the very foods that could be fatal in front of him. Going to playgroups or other pre-school activities often involve food. If a child eats peanut butter and does not wash his hands before touching the toys the allergen can still be on there."
To help share the knowledge of food allergies Jackie has found a way to educate and raise awareness for young children, parents, schools and daycare centres. She has created My Food Allergy Friends, a series of books aimed at pre-school age children with allergies. The first book in the series is Thai Goes To A Birthday Party.
"It shows how with a bit of planning birthday parties can still be just as much fun. There are also a couple of recipes to try out and a parent/teacher section at the back, to further learning by asking questions."