'Don't Feed Me' T-Shirts Calm Parents of Allergic Kids

ABC News Blogs
'Don't Feed Me' T-Shirts Calm Parents of Allergic Kids
.

View photo

'Don't Feed Me' T-Shirts Calm Parents of Allergic Kids (ABC News)

ABC News' Karen Keller reports:

Move over, note-pinning.

Kym Whitley, a comedian and reality television show star, is launching a new line of "Don't Feed Me" T-shirts that parents of allergic kids can use to alert caregivers and others who might feed their children.

17 Scary Allergy Triggers

Parents can use a pen to fill in the child's name and check off boxes of what the child is allergic to. Whitley first made the shirts for her son, Joshua, 2, who wore them to day care.

"The other parents were like, 'Oh my God that's great, we need that," said Whitley, whose new reality show, "Raising Whitley," starts April 20 on the Oprah Winfrey Network. It chronicles the Los Angeles single mother's experience raising her adopted son.

Now she's producing big batches of the T-shirts in different colors and selling them for $10 on her website, DontFeedMe.org, with co-creator Rodney Van Johnson, her friend, she told ABCNews.com. She's also selling clear bags that have the same "Don't Feed Me" warning on the sides that can hold Benadryl, Epi-Pens (epinephrine injectors) and other allergy aids.

At least 3 million American children have a food or digestive allergy, and the problem is growing, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Between 1997 and 2007, the figure rose 18 percent.

Food allergies in children are age-dependent, said Dr. Wayne Shreffler, director of the Food Allergy Center at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston. Small children have mostly egg, milk and peanut allergies, while older children might react to peanuts, shellfish and tree nuts, he said.

Death from food allergies are rare, and usually happen when an older child worried about social acceptance accepts food from a peer, Shreffler said. On average, a child with food allergies experiences a reaction once or twice a year.

Shreffler said he has "mixed feelings" about the T-shirts, because they could become a bully magnet.

"I think schools increasingly are aware of the issue," he told ABCNews.com. "By and large, most schools handle it well." Whitley said the shirts were meant to be worn by children who are too young - younger than 5 - to communicate their needs or to know how to read.

Shreffler said the T-the shirts might be useful for an introverted child in a specific setting, such as day camp, that relies on volunteers, he said.

Whitley said it was a nanny who accidentally fed her son peanut butter.

"Luckily, I was home," she said. "That's the thing. I heard that cough that sounded like what he had before he was tested."

Whitley had Joshua tested before he turned 1. A friend encouraged the testing, after hearing that Joshua had thrown up after eating eggs, had dry patches on his arm and would sometimes break out in red spots on his face, Whitley said.

When the test results came back, "the doctor told me to sit down and [she] said, 'Do you have a pencil and paper?' 'I said, 'What?' 'She said, yeah, it's a lot,'" Whitley said.

Joshua's most severe allergies included peanuts, chicken, corn, shellfish and peaches.

Whitley's friend, Van Johnson, who stepped up to become Joshua's father after Whitley adopted him as a baby, had the "Don't Feed Me" shirts made, Whitley said. Van Johnson was no stranger to food allergies: He learned that he shouldn't eat mango pits on a trip to Thailand as an adult.

Now Joshua wears his "Don't Feed Me" T-shirt when he's with a new babysitter or goes to a kids' party, for example, his mother said.

The shirt also makes it easy for teachers and habitual caregivers to remember what Joshua can't eat, she said. With the shirt making it obvious, adults around Joshua don't have to fish for a piece of paper in his backpack, look for a note pinned onto his shirt or go through a classroom file.

"It's right there," she said.

View Comments (990)

Recommended for You

  • Deaths Reported in Medan, Indonesia After Military Plane Crashes in Residential Area

    An Indonesian Air Force C-130 Hercules with 12 people on board crashed Tuesday into a residential neighborhood in Medan, the country’s third largest city, reportedly killing at least 20 people, authorities said.Adam Malik hospital spokeswoman Sairi M. Saragih told the Associated Press that the…

    Good Morning America53 mins ago
  • How Police Caught Escaped Prisoners Richard Matt and David Sweat

    A three-week manhunt for two escaped prisoners, called a "nightmare" by New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, came to a violent end this past weekend when one inmate was shot and killed Friday and another was shot and apprehended Sunday. Officials announced they had reason to believe Sweat and Matt, who…

    Good Morning America
  • Escaped Prisoners: How David Sweat and Richard Matt Survived 3 Weeks on the Run

    During escaped prisoners Richard Matt and David Sweat's three weeks on the run in upstate New York, Matt spent some time in a previously unknown camper in Franklin County, an official confirmed. Jon Chodat, who lives just down the road, told ABC News the camper that sheltered Matt, 48, from the…

    Good Morning America
  • Father Describes How He and His Family Escaped a Plane Crashing Into Their Home

    A father's quick thinking helped save his wife and two children when a plane hit their Massachusetts home.Aaron Rice and his family survived the Sunday evening crash that killed all three on board when it hit the Rice family's home in Plainville, near the Rhode Island border."My wife and my boys…

    Good Morning America
  • 'Ant-Man' Red Carpet: Check Out Paul Rudd and Rest of Cast at World Premiere

    The big night is finally here. Okay, well maybe "big" isn't the best word to describe "Ant-Man," which debuts tonight at the movie's world premiere in Hollywood.At 9 p.m. ET, Paul Rudd, Michael Douglas and the rest of the cast all hit the red carpet at the Dolby Theater to celebrate Marvel's latest…

    Good Morning America
  • Michael Douglas Loves Wife Catherine Zeta-Jones 'More Than Ever'

    Michael Douglas says he and wife Catherine Zeta-Jones are doing better than ever following their public separation in 2013. The 70-year-old "Ant-Man" star opened up in a new interview about his relationship with his wife, their two children and his life after cancer. "It feels like a rebirth…

    Good Morning America
  • 2015 FIFA Women's World Cup: Complete Results

    Germany, Japan and the United States, three former Women's World Cup champions, have reached the semifinals along with England, which is making its first appearance. ...

    Good Morning America
  • 'The Bachelorette' Kaitlyn Bristowe Admits It's 'Tough' Dating Multiple Men

    As the star of "The Bachelorette," Kaitlyn Bristowe was romantically involved with several men. Juggling those relationships wasn't always easy, especially when some of the men, namely Shawn B., expressed that they were having a hard time dealing with feelings of jealousy.

    Good Morning America
  • Adorable Kid Helps Dad Pop the Question

    This cutie pie managed to help his dad pop the question without ever saying a word during a family photo shoot. Adam Blum decided to take advantage of the opportunity of the pre-planned shoot to pop the question to the 13-month-old boy's mom and his fiance, Hannah Roach, of Cape Girardeau,…

    Good Morning America
  • Taylor Swift Posts Fun Pic With Calvin Harris, Joe Jonas and Gigi Hadid

    Taylor Swift posted a fun picture on Sunday, spending time with her rumored new man Calvin Harris and another rumored couple -- Joe Jonas and Gigi Hadid. Karlie Kloss was also on the boat ride through London.Swift, 25, who famously dated Jonas back in 2008, also joked about Kloss, 22, being the…

    Good Morning America
  • 'Duck Dynasty' Star John Luke Robertson Marries Mary Kate McEacharn

    "Duck Dynasty" star John Luke Robertson married Mary Kate McEacharn on Saturday on the family farm in West Monroe, Louisiana, his rep confirmed to ABC News. "It was one of the best days of my life! It was everything I hoped it would be and more," McEacharn told US Weekly about tying the knot. …

    Good Morning America
  • How Aaron Rodgers Helped Olivia Munn Prepare for 'X-Men'

    As Olivia Munn prepares for her big role in "X-Men: Apocalypse," she's getting some help -- kind of -- from her boyfriend Aaron Rodgers.Munn posted a video showing off her sword skills for her role as Betsy Braddock, aka Psylocke, and there's a familiar face, goofing off in the background."Learned…

    Good Morning America
  • Prison Escapees Richard Matt and David Sweat Were Headed to Mexico, Gov. Cuomo Says

    Prison escapees Richard Matt and David Sweat had originally planned to flee to Mexico before the two split up last week, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said in a radio interview today. Investigators have already started getting important information from captured inmate Sweat, who is now undergoing…

    Good Morning America
  • Leap Second: Why Tuesday Will Be 1 Second Longer and Could Screw Up Your Computer

    A leap second will be added to the clock on the last day of June, creating the potential to wreak havoc on computer systems not equipped to handle the change. The International Earth Rotation and Reference Systems (IERS) said the extra second will be added to account for a discrepancy between…

    Good Morning America
  • Kendall Jenner Breaks Sister Kim Kardashian's Instagram Record

    Sorry, Kim Kardashian, but you no longer have the most-liked post on Instagram. That distinction now belongs to your younger sister, Kendall Jenner. Jenner, 19, set the record with a picture she posted over a month ago that now has 2.6 million likes.

    Good Morning America
  • Paul Rudd Reflects on 'Clueless' 20 Years Later

    It's been 20 years since Paul Rudd stole everyone's heart as Cher's love interest in "Clueless" and the A-lister recently took some time to reflect on the cult classic. "Who didn’t have a crush on Paul Rudd in Clueless?" the actor's "Ant-Man" co-star Evangeline Lilly said during a presser over the…

    Good Morning America
  • Avril Lavigne: 'I’m Doing a Lot Better' After Lyme Disease Treatment

    Singer Avril Lavigne said she’s seeing progress in her treatment for Lyme disease, which struck her last year while she was on tour. Her treatment regimen has included multiple antibiotics and ample rest.

    Good Morning America