Food Allergies in Children Should Be Taken More Seriously

By Heather Legg

As it so often is, the topic of food allergies seems to be heavy in the news these days. Perhaps this is due to the fact that the recently published, largest study ever to track childhood food allergies in the United States shows that food allergies may be more dangerous as well as more severe than previously thought.

This month, a comprehensive study was published online by the journal, Pediatrics. The  objective of this study, was to better estimate the prevalence and severity of childhood food allergy in the United States. “What I don’t think people understand is that (food allergies) can be life-threatening. You can have a severe reaction and end up in the hospital and even die of food allergy,” said Dr. Ruchi Gupta, associate professor of pediatrics at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine and lead author of the study.

This recent study shows that where it once thought that about 4% of kids have some sort of food allergy, in actuality it is closer to 8% being allergic to at least one type of food. One reason this study may have higher statistics is that it is a larger study that evaluated many different foods. According to a piece on Web Md, it also states that the study holds importance because it not only covered the basic statistics, but also hints at some of the misery that is visited on children with food allergies.

Emotional Toll
It is hard for people without food allergies to understand what those with them have to go through. My friend who I have mentioned recently who just had two of her children diagnosed with Celiac Disease finally got in touch with a leader of a support group. The support group leader asked her where she was in the first stages of the diagnosis. She said, “Have you been to the grocery store, freaked out and cried yet?”

I remember doing that when my daughter was diagnosed with her food allergy. I still remember walking through the store wanting to cry at all the things she couldn’t have anymore. There certainly is a lot of emotional toll on a family with food allergies, and it is important that others realize we are not trying to control or baby or alienate our children; we just want them to safe. I was glad to see that this study tackled this aspect.

Dangers Continue, Especially for Teenage Boys

The study also showed that almost 40% of kids with a food allergy exhibit some form of a severe reaction such as wheezing or anaphylaxis, and that allergies tend to peak in preschoolers, those kids around 3 – 5 years old. However, another maybe the most dangerous time, according to the study, is the teenage years, especially for boys. They tend to exhibit more reckless behavior and that even encompasses not wanting to ask questions regarding food allergies in restaurants and with friends.

Maybe what we can take from this is that we still need to coach our kids. It’s not enough to teach them how to act and eat when they set off for kindergarten or their first sleepover. We need to remind them when they go out with friends or on a date. We need to get it in their heads when they go off to college and maybe even a bit more reckless. It is way cooler to ask if there are any peanut products in the kitchen than pass out with anaphylactic shock, and as they get older, they need to know this. They need to stay careful and keep their Epipens with them, even if it’s not cool.

Now we have a study to support all of this.

Sources:
http://children.webmd.com/news/20110620/food-allergies-in-kids-more-common-than-thought
http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/early/2011/06/16/peds.2011-0204.abstract
http://www.cnn.com/2011/HEALTH/06/20/food.allergies.pediatrics/index.html

1 Comment »

One new product on the market developed specifically for kids with egg allergies is EggNots.

Easter With Egg Allergies: The EggNots Story

Several years ago, my niece was diagnosed with food allergies, with eggs among the list of items she is highly allergic to. Her parents quickly learned how to read ingredients on food labels to identify foods safe for her to eat or even touch. This education is an ongoing process for our entire family.

I’ve always enjoyed gathering with my seven nieces and nephews for seasonal activities and holiday celebrations. For years, one thing we could never do was dye Easter eggs. My heart broke to hear that while her classmates in school, church and scouts were coloring eggs, my niece was separated from the other children and the activity.

I researched for other options, but found there was no allergy-free product on the market that could serve as an Easter egg alternative.

Thus, EggNots was born! I created a dyeable ceramic product that allows my niece and her little sister to have the experience of coloring Easter Eggs. Watching these two children enjoy coloring EggNots was, and continues to be, an emotional experience.

It is my hope that other families will be able to enjoy this same experience.

January 25th, 2012 | 12:33 pm
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