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August 30, 2006

What Everyone Should Know About Child Food Allergies

Child Food Allergies are all around us. Whether you child has them or you know kids with food allergies, there are some things you should know. Our friends at FAAN have compiled a list of 6 things everyone should know about food allergies.

1. There is no cure for food allergies. Strict avoidance of the allergy-causing food is the only way to prevent a reaction. Trace amounts of an allergic food is enough to cause a life threatening reaction, known as anaphylaxis. Do your best to adhere to guidelines and food policies in your child’s class so every child will be safe.

2. One in every 17 children under 3 has food allergies. Symptoms range from a tingling sensation in the mouth, swelling of the tongue and the throat, difficulty breathing, hives, vomiting, abdominal cramps, and many more serious reactions. If you suspect that your child could have a food allergy, discuss it with your pediatrician. He or she will likely have you keep a food diary, for 1 to 2 weeks, of everything your child eats, what symptoms they experience, and how long after eating they occur. This information, combined with a physical examination and lab tests, will help the doctor determine what, if any, food is causing symptoms.

3. Eight foods account for 90 percent of all reactions in the U.S.: milk, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts (almonds, walnuts, pecans etc.), wheat, soy, fish, shellfish (lobster, crab shrimp etc.) Although, a person can be allergic to any food. Every day products like, cupcakes, crackers, candies, chips, finger paints, molding clays, soaps and shampoos have traces of these products. Parents of children with food allergies must be extra vigilant about finding foods and products that are safe for their kids.

4. Food allergy is the leading cause of anaphylaxis outside the hospital setting. Anaphylaxis is a sudden, severe, potentially fatal, systemic allergic reaction that can involve various areas of the body (such as the skin, respiratory tract, gastrointestinal tract, and cardiovascular system). Symptoms occur within minutes to two hours after contact with the allergy-causing substance but, in rare instances, may occur up to four hours later. Anaphylactic reactions can be mild to life threatening. This is an extremely scary scenario for many parents - if you suspect a child in your care may be having a reaction, call 911 immediately.

5. Food allergy reactions account for over 30,000 emergency room trips each year. It is estimated that 150 to 200 people die annually due to anaphylaxis from food allergies. It’s a serious condition.

6. Approximately 2.2 million school-aged children have food allergies. According to a recent survey done by 400 school nurses for the Journal of School Nursing, 94 percent of the nurses have at least one student with potentially life threatening food allergies. According to the same survey the average public school in the U.S. currently has 10 students with food allergies.

Food allergy facts obtained from the Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Network (FAAN). FAAN advocates for state and federal laws, policies, and regulations that can improve the lives of individuals affected by food allergy and anaphylaxis. To lean more about food allergies log onto their Web site www.foodallergy.org.

Posted by David at August 30, 2006 4:28 PM