All News & Blogs
Kids with food allergies must know the first signs of a reaction so they can get help.
Visit the Photo Place
Date published: 8/4/2011
For kids with severe food allergies, navigating the back-to-school blitz of new teachers, new friends, classroom parties and after-school athletics can be quite a challenge. But with the right game plan, parents can ensure their children's safety without cutting into their fun.
"We have always remained vigilant, but others often do not understand the seriousness of certain allergies," says Katie Corl, author of "The Pesky Peanut: A True Story."
The inspiration for her children's story came after her son Kelly was diagnosed with a severe peanut allergy at 11 months old. "Many adults do not realize that Kelly could stop breathing if he eats a peanut, peanut dust, peanut oil or a product that has been cross-contaminated with a peanut product," Corl says.
Living a full life despite a severe food allergy starts with education. "We have always been very clear with our son on the seriousness of his condition because you cannot completely avoid peanuts, but you do not want children to be too afraid to enjoy life," Corl says. "Kelly attends birthday parties, school activities and all sorts of events. He is just very aware and careful.
It's never too soon to teach kids about their allergies, but it's up to parents to educate other adults, as well.
From teachers and school staff to baby sitters, coaches, neighbors and other parents on play dates, it's imperative that those close to the child know how to prevent and respond to an allergic reaction. "Food allergy safety should never be left to just one person," says Maria L. Acebal, CEO of The Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Network.
Kids should know what they can and cannot eat and they should know the early warning signs of an allergic reaction so they can inform the nearest adult. "Children with food allergies should be empowered to speak up and let an adult know when they are not feeling well and to keep insisting something is wrong." Acebal says.
Supervising adults should be provided with a list of foods to avoid, a description of possible symptoms and training on how to use an epinephrine auto-injector, such as the EpiPen, which the child should carry with him or her at all times.