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Julie Bowen on Her Son

Julie Bowen on Her Son's Life-Threatening Allergy

By RAPHAEL CHESTANG

December 03, 2012

Modern Family star Julie Bowen has been through some outrageous incidents on her ABC sitcom, but none of that compares to the real-life episode that almost cost her toddler son his life.

VIDEO: Julie Bowen's Hidden Talent

The Emmy-winning actress, 42, told the Los Angeles Times that her oldest son, Oliver, went into anaphylactic shock when he was just shy of 2 years old.

"His entire face swelled up, his eye swelled shut and his lips became giant. My husband sent me a picture of it, and I immediately panicked," said Bowen. "We took him to the ER, where he was treated with an epinephrine, and ever since then we've been vigilant about keeping him safe."

The reaction was triggered after Oliver was simultaneously stung by a bee while eating peanut butter.

Oliver, now 5, completely recovered from the incident, which has inspired Bowen to educate parents about kids' allergies.

"I want other parents to know what to look for," said Bowen, who has taught her other children -- twin boys John and Gustav, 3 -- what to do in the event of an allergic reaction. "It's pretty straightforward. I don't need to know everything that happens during an anaphylactic reaction; it's enough for me to know as a parent that it can kill you. Your tongue swells, and breathing is hard. We treat ours with an EpiPen auto-injector, and my son's school has one. If he has a play date, it goes in a backpack with him."

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