Food allergies and its impact on children

Food allergy is a now a common phenomenon and is a major health problem in most of the families. The worst sufferers are the children and it is estimated that one in every thirteen children in the United States is allergic to food in some form or the other. This figure has doubled when compared with the data in 2008. The current figures show that an estimated six million children are diagnosed with this disorder as per the Food Allergy Initiative.

The food allergies among children are now becoming a serious issue for schools, educational institutions and day care centers. The main cause of food allergy is anaphylaxis which is a condition in which there is hypersensitive reaction to an antigenic substance that has been injected or consumed. Anaphylaxis is a life threatening if not treated properly in children.

Some of the common foods that bring an anaphylactic allergic reaction in children include peanuts, dairy products, eggs, fish, chocolates, pizzas etc. Some non-food stuff that may bring allergic reaction in children includes animal dander, pollen, house dust, feathers of birds, mite, chemicals etc. Most of the parents of the children do not notice that their children suffer from food allergies, until the concerned child have an allergic reaction.

In the state of Michigan, it is the responsibility of the parent or the legal guardian to provide the medication to the school along with the doctor’s prescription, if their child is having food allergy. The state of Virginia had a legislation under which it is compulsory to have Epinephrine auto injectors at every school and the management of these schools must train their school staff in their use.  Recently, Food Awareness Week- May13- May19 was conducted in major parts of the United States by hosting online forums, holding fund raisers and events and distributing allergen free food.

The other primary issue that is concerned with the children on food allergy is of having a family vacation when the child concerned is allergic to food. In such a case, physicians do advice the parents to have an action plan and the child’s medication within an easy reach before planning for a family vacation.  The following tips will be helpful for traveling with children who have food allergy and these include:

  • Visiting the child’s certified allergist before the trip,
  • Knowing the symptoms of the food allergy,
  • Keeping all the anti-allergic medications in close proximity,
  • Knowing the exact location of the emergency medical care center where you are traveling.

The said mentioned tips will help in preventing food allergies in children and aptly applies to an old saying that “Prevention is better than cure.”

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