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ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, IL (October 7, 2015) – Boo! Did we scare you? Every year kids start to get excited at least a month before Halloween. But kids with food allergies also get a bit nervous. They worry they might accidentally eat something they shouldn’t, and suffer a severe allergic reaction.
“Every year Halloween is a bigger celebration,” said allergist Jana Tuck, MD, Fellow of the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI). “And every year, parents of kids with food allergies have to think about ways to keep their child safe from potential allergic reactions. About 4-6 percent of children in the United States have a food allergy. And while many kids are good at knowing what they’re allergic to, sometimes there are hidden dangers kids and parents need to be aware of.”
These tips from ACAAI will help you navigate the “tricks” that can arise from allergic responses to “treats.”
Scary, for all the right reasons – Although Halloween can be all about the candy, try taking the emphasis off food, and putting it on spookiness. Plenty of activities don’t involve food. Scary movies (or not-so-scary ones for younger kids), haunted houses, treasure hunts, mask-making and pumpkin carving or painting are just a few. Some creativity (and Google searching) can help you find fun things to do that don’t involve eating.
“Witch” treats? – While you and your child know which foods cause a reaction, sometimes labels aren’t much help. If there’s no label on the candy – which can occur with mini-treats – it’s not safe for your child with food allergies. Tell your kids it’s ok to say “no thank you” to a treat if they know it’s not safe for them. You can drop off treats that are safe for your child with neighbors in advance of trick-or-treating. If you worry your child will be tempted to snack while trick-or-treating, make a special treat sack to avoid the temptation of eating before they get home.
Hey, that pumpkin isn’t orange! – Last year, Food Allergy Research & Education began a campaign to encourage awareness of food allergies. They suggest non-food treats and painting a pumpkin teal - the color of food allergy awareness - to place in front of your house. Consider these allergy-safe ideas even if your kids aren’t food-allergic.
When a food allergy isn’t a food allergy - If you suspect your child has a food allergy, but you aren’t sure, consult a board-certified allergist. “A food allergy results in specific symptoms (e.g., hives, wheezing, cough, vomiting, etc.) developing within a couple of hours of eating.” said Dr. Tuck. “Without a good history, allergy testing may not be indicated. Positive allergy blood or skin tests alone aren’t enough to make a food allergy diagnosis. Many more people test positive than will have actual food allergy. This results in people thinking they can’t eat something, when they actually might be able to.”
If you think your child might have a food allergy, make an appointment with an allergist for proper testing. For more information about food allergies, and to locate an allergist in your area, visit AllergyAndAsthmaRelief.org.