Kids with Food Allergies: We Care About You

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One in 13 kids in America have food allergies. That’s a lot of kids. Chances are, you have one of those kids or know one (or more) of those kids. 

The goal for all of us? Keeping them safe. 

Food allergies are scary. Sending your child to school or to a birthday party, knowing that allergens could be floating around is scary. We’re moms. Our first job is to protect our kids. 

food allergies

The Scope

Growing up, I knew of one friend with food allergies. One. It’s possible others may have had them and simply not talked about them as freely as they do today. But still: One. 

Fast forward a few years. 

These days, more than 170 foods have been reported to cause allergic reactions, according to the nonprofit group Food Allergy Research & Education. Of those, eight are major food allergens and responsible for the majority of serious reactions in the United States (in this order): 

  • Shellfish
  • Milk
  • Peanuts
  • Tree Nuts
  • Egg
  • Fish
  • Wheat
  • Soy 
  • (*Sesame also is an emerging concern)

And for about 40 percent of kids with food allergies, it’s not just one food — it’s multiple foods. Soy and peanuts. Wheat and shellfish. Egg and milk. These are common ingredients. They’re in lots of things we would never think they’re in. Allergic reactions rarely happen because someone with a peanut allergy knowingly eats a peanut. More frequently, it’s a result of cross contamination in a factory or in a kitchen. 

What’s the Big Deal? 

No allergies are fun. But some — cats, for instance — are easier to avoid. Food allergens are sneakier. Insidious. Allergic reactions may involve the respiratory tract, the cardiovascular system, the skin and the gastrointestinal tract. 

Symptoms can include:

  • wheezing
  • trouble breathing
  • coughing
  • hoarseness
  • throat tightness
  • belly pain
  • vomiting
  • diarrhea
  • itchy, watery, or swollen eyes
  • hives
  • red spots
  • swelling
  • a drop in blood pressure, causing lightheadedness or loss of consciousness (passing out)

Every three minutes, a food allergy reaction sends someone to the emergency room. Every three minutes. It’s no wonder parents of kids with allergies often have higher anxiety than other parents. 

Adults know their bodies and can communicate when something feels off. Younger kids may not be able to do that. That means some families with young children who have food allergies avoid eating out and other social situations like birthday parties to avoid potential exposure. 

And some children — especially children with more than one allergy — have been bullied about it. Let’s teach our children who don’t have food allergies to show kindness and compassion to those who do. 

Some Resources

If you’re looking for the latest, greatest information on food allergies, food recalls, how to choose safe foods and other tips, check out this site. It offers an incredible amount of information for kids with food allergies. 

And below, we have gathered information and tips from other moms across America into one place. Together, we can help keep kids with food allergies safe and help support their parents, too!

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