Halloween Safety Tips for Kids With Food Allergies10/31/13
THURSDAY, Oct. 31 (HealthDay News) -- Halloween activities, such
as parties and trick-or-treating, could be dangerous for children
with food allergies, a medical expert warns.
Even mild food allergies that result in watery eyes or a rash
could become more severe after a child is re-exposed to an
allergen, said Dr. Joyce Rabbat, a pediatric allergy specialist
with the Loyola University Health System, in Chicago.
"Food allergies can be tricky," Rabbat said in a Loyola news release. "Just because a child had a mild reaction, such as a rash, the first time doesn't mean it can't be more serious the next time."
Halloween parties featuring tempting treats become more
worrisome with the number of U.S. kids with food allergies on the
rise. During the past decade, there has been an 18 percent surge in
the number of children with food allergies, according to the news
release. That means 6 percent to 8 percent of children currently
have at least one food allergy.
Although some food allergies are mild, others can trigger a
dangerous reaction known as anaphylaxis, which progresses quickly
and can cause airway swelling and low blood pressure. In extreme
cases, anaphylaxis can affect a person's ability to breath and
cause them to lose consciousness.
"While nut allergies have the reputation for causing severe reactions, any food allergy could result in a severe reaction like anaphylaxis," said Rabbat, who also is an assistant professor of pediatrics and internal medicine at the Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine. "Halloween candy often contains common allergens, such as peanuts, tree nuts, milk and eggs."
Rabbat recommended several steps parents or caregivers can take
to ensure their child's safety during Halloween festivities,
- Go food-free.Plan parties and events, such as costume
contests, that do not include food, candy or other edible
- Speak up.If your child has a food allergy, be sure to inform
the host of any Halloween party. It's a good idea to provide event
organizers with a list of foods that may trigger an allergic
- Clean up.Be sure to clean all cooking utensils, pans or
other dishes if they have been in contact with a food allergen.
It's also important to wipe down all surfaces after cooking or
eating foods that are allergens.
- Check labels.It's important to read labels to learn if
particular foods contain allergens or have been made on the same
machine as other products that contain an allergen. Rabbat said
foods made in the same plant as other products that contain an
allergen are probably not dangerous.
Parents also can take steps to make sure their kids with food
allergies are safe while trick-or-treating. Rabbat said kids with
food allergies should not trick-or-treat alone, and they should
carry self-injectable epinephrine.
Once trick-or-treaters return home, parents should sort through
their candy and remove any potential allergens. When in doubt about
a particular treat, parents should play it safe and throw it away,
"Although having a food allergy is serious, kids should still be able to have fun," she said. "The key is education. Make sure your child knows what he or she can eat. When in doubt, throw it out."
It's important to note that smaller or "fun-sized" candy may
contain different ingredients than the regular-sized versions,
Rabbat said. She said anyone who has consumed a food that contains
an allergen should brush their teeth and wash their hands before
hugging or kissing a child with a food allergy.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offers more
Halloween health and safety tips.
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Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.