Halloween is approaching quickly, and children and adults alike are already preparing their scariest costumes. But if you plan on handing out treats at the door, try to be mindful of the children in your neighborhood who may have food allergies.
According to the American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology (ACAAI), nearly 8 percent of children in the United States have a food allergy, a number that has increased by over 50 percent between 1997 and 2011.
There are eight foods that account for 90 percent of all food-related allergic reactions: milk, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, wheat, soy, fish, and shellfish. Although children often outgrow certain food allergies such as milk, eggs, or wheat, other allergies may last a lifetime. The most severe, long-term food allergies include peanuts, tree nuts, and shellfish.
Unfortunately, many children with food allergies cannot participate in the candy-gathering or festivities. However, there’s no need to hold off the fun completely. The ACAAI has recently provided tips to help your child enjoy Halloween safely, even with food allergies:
There are plenty of Halloween activities for children that don’t involve the consumption of copious amounts of candy and junk food. Reinforce this concept by providing fun alternatives to trick-or-treating: haunted houses, scavenger hunts, pumpkin-carving, or mask-making are just a few ideas.
If you decide to participate in trick-or-treating, make sure your child knows what ingredients to look for on labels that may trigger an allergic reaction. Candy that does not have a label may not be safe and is certainly not worth the risk; tell your child that it’s okay to say “no thank you” to a treat. Many parents of children with food allergies drop off treats that are safe for their child with neighbors in advance.
Last year, the Food Allergy Research & Education group started a national campaign for food allergy awareness and to promote inclusion during Halloween. Because teal is the official color of food allergy awareness, the Teal Pumpkin Project™ suggests placing teal-painted pumpkins on porches to let trick-or-treaters know they will be giving out nut-free or non-food treats.
If you suspect that you or your child may have a skin or food allergy, the best thing to do is to schedule an appointment for testing. ZendyHealth can help you find the very best board-certified allergists in your area in order to find the source of your symptoms and begin treatment.