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Sting, Skin

Profile: Actress Julie Bowen’s Role as Allergy Mom

Julie-BowenJob: Actress on TV’s Modern Family
Has child allergic to: peanuts, nuts, insect stings

Allergic Living’s Gwen Smith: Julie, how did you first become aware of your child’s food allergies?

Julie Bowen: I was at work on Boston Legal and my husband was at home. He sent me a text saying, ‘I think we have a problem with our son and peanut butter.’ I said, ‘but he’s had it before,’ and then he said – ‘and he got stung by a bee’. And I was thinking, ‘What is going on over there?’

AL: You mean he was stung at the very same time he was reacting to peanut butter?

JB: Well, it is California and our doors are open all the time. So he [her son Oliver] had wandered out eating peanut butter and was stung by a bee. I was one to think this was no big deal until my husband sent me a picture of our son’s face, which was clearly in distress. It was swollen and disfigured.

My husband rushed him off to the emergency room and he was treated with epinephrine, and after that we learned that Oliver had allergies to all sorts of nuts and peanuts and probably also to stinging insects – but that’s a different series of tests.

After the anaphylactic reaction, I know that my job is to be aware and to be prepared for the next reaction – whenever that may be.

AL: These days you’re a big TV star, you’ve won a second Emmy and the show is a huge hit. But facing anaphylaxis, is that the great leveler?

JB: You know, I think being a parent is the great leveler. People often ask me how my life has changed since Modern Family. And I say, ‘Having three kids in three years was a much bigger change than having a lovely, lovely job.’

AL: What ages are your kids?

JB: Oliver is the older boy and we have twin 3-year-old boys. [So far, no life-threatening allergies have been diagnosed with the twins.]

Next: Bowen’s decision to get involved in the “Get Schooled in Anaphylaxis” campaign.

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