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Childhood Food Allergies: The Importance of Understanding, Identifying, and Educating For the Future

Parenting involves making sure your children are healthy, safe, protected, clothed, sheltered, happy, and so much more. For decades! That can be quite stressful. It’s not always the obvious life scares that cause the most parenting problems, too. For instance, though one in five U.S. children have learning and attention issues like ADHD, only 48% of parents believe — incorrectly — that their kids will outgrow these difficulties.

Another common issue that parents often neglect is their children’s food allergies. This can be extremely dangerous and lead to all kinds of serious health concerns. You might have lived your entire life without any food allergies at all, but your kids could actually have dozens — and you need to stay on top of that and anything else that might cause them harm.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that food allergies among children increased approximately 50% between 1997 and 2001.

There are actually more than 160 food products that can cause allergic reactions in children and adults with food allergies, but the federal law identified eight most common allergenic foods: milk, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, fish, soy, wheat, and shellfish. These eight foods account for 90% of all food allergic reactions and are the food sources from which many other ingredients are derived, making it important to be aware of what your children are consuming.

Thankfully, there are advancements being made within the medical community that could soon help combat serious problems with food allergies.

According to The CW, a Houston doctor has developed a new treatment for combating dangerous food allergies.

Dr. Dat Q. Tran of the Innovative Allergy Clinic has developed a treatment called Eat Freely, which helps patients slowly build a tolerance to foods they are allergic to. The Eat Freely program requires people to actually consume their allergies in small dosages over time.

“This treatment isn’t a cure for peanut allergies,” Dr. Tran said. “The method is more of desensitization for the immune system.”

In addition to medical treatments, there are a few other things parents can do to improve their children’s wellbeing when it comes to allergies and heading back to school. Here are some great parenting tips for getting kids with food allergies ready for back to school:

  • Meet with school staff members — Setting up meetings with school principles, teachers, nurses, and cafeteria staff is a great way to ensure that your children aren’t consuming anything they are allergic to once school begins again. It’s essential to inform everyone in the school so they not only are aware of what your child is allergic to, but what they should do during an allergic emergency as well.
  • Pack a safe and healthy lunch — Sending your kids off with a few bucks for lunch might be more convenient for you as a parent, but it’s not the safest option. Since you’re fully aware of what your child can and cannot eat at this point, you should start packing them a healthy and safe lunch. Toss in a few snacks to allow them to eat throughout the day just in case someone brings in a treat for the entire class.
  • Create a written allergy plan — Working with an allergist can help you and your children better understand their allergy problems. Develop an action plan that outlines all the necessary information pertaining to your child’s allergy, including how to prevent accidental exposure, recognize symptoms, and offer treatment.

Doing this will not just help your kids stay safe and avoid allergy problems during the school day, but you’ll also be setting them up for a safe and healthy future. As your children grow and begin to enter the workforce, the fact that they are at least conscious of their food allergies can actually end up saving their lives down the road.

According to the Department of Labor, vehicle incidents are the first leading cause of accidental death, but fatal food anaphylaxis remains a concern across the workforce. Simply taking a lunch break can end up being fatal if the employee is unsure of what they are or are not allergic to.

Though fatal food anaphylaxis for a food-allergic person is rarer than accidental death in the general population, employers, schools, parents, and individuals need to be fully aware of the dangers associated with food allergies.

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