Wednesday, 25 October 2017 18:38

Teal Pumpkins?

teal pumpkinFor children with food allergies, Halloween is not just a time to dress up and have fun, it is yet another experience where they need to be vigilant about their food allergies. FARE (Food Allergy Research and Education) started the Teal Pumpkin Project to make Halloween and Trick or Treating a safe and inclusive event for all children regardless of food allergies or dietary restrictions. Instead of only buying candy to hand out to Trick or Treaters, people who participate in the Teal Pumpkin project also have non-food treats available that eliminate the risk of an allergic reaction. (This also works for people who are worried about too much sugar and junk food being passed out on Halloween!)

Some people who participate in the Teal pumpkin project will have pumpkins pained teal outside of their houses. Other people will make or print out signs to show that they are participating. But, if you don’t have time to do that stuff, just having a separate bowl of non-food treats that you offer to trick or treaters will work!

Help make Halloween a safe and fun experience for all kids!

Sign up on the FARE website to let kids with food allergies know that your house is a safe place for trick or treating this year, and look for other people participating in your neighborhood! 

Ideas for non-food treats

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(an occasional series by Dr. Pedersen about her experiences with allergy in her family)

Prior to becoming a mom, I was pretty sure that I would be calm, cool, and collected about my kids’ health. After all, I am a board-certified pediatrician and allergist. So, when my picky son (we will call him Mini P) was 9 months old and FINALLY ate a few bites of eggs and then refused to eat any more, I thought it was no big deal. When he got fussier and fussier over the next few minutes and just wanted to be held, I thought he was tired from a long day at daycare. When my husband looked at him and said, “he looks blotchy, and is he itching his ear?” I brushed him off. When Mini P refused his bottle, I figured he was overstimulated and brought him to his room to calm him down. When, as I was changing him into his pajamas, he began to projectile vomit multiple times, I finally realized what was going on.

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In honor of National Asthma and Allergy Awareness month, we will share a series on food allergy focusing on everything from myths to personal stories of dealing with food allergy.

There is a substantial amount of false information available on the internet and it can be very difficult to separate fact from fiction in food allergy.  This post will try to correct some of these myths. (This article is adapted from “Common questions in food allergy avoidance”, written by Maureen Egan, MD & Matthew Greenwalt, MD and published in the Annals of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology, March 2018.)


FACT: If a food allergic person touches a surface (such as a table top) that has remnants of the food still on it and then puts the hand into their mouth or touches their eyes, a reaction can occur, but this is considered an ingestion (eating it), not an inhalation (breathing it) reaction.  Some families may choose to be peanut free at home, but that is a personal decision. If a family chooses to keep peanut (or any allergen) in their house, they should wash their hands with soap and water after eating it, and clean the table top with cleaner or commercial wipes. Hand sanitizer does not remove food proteins.

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In honor of National Asthma and Allergy Awareness month, we will share a series on food allergy focusing on everything from myths to personal stories of dealing with food allergy. Today we have a story written by Michele Benyue about her experience with a food allergy emergency. 

It was a typical Friday night and my children were asking for ice cream. Because of our oldest son’s food allergies, we always buy the same kind. I never thought to check the ingredients on this unopened container. It looked the same as always. Shortly after eating his scoop, my son told me he had a fat lip. He is 6, so I didn’t think much of it. I asked what he bumped his lip on and he said he didn’t bump it on anything. I took a peek and shrugged it off. A few minutes later he started coughing uncontrollably and telling me that maybe he was getting the flu because his stomach and throat hurt. It was in that moment that a light bulb went off. I asked him to come into the bathroom and I looked at his lips.

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Due to the COVID19 pandemic, people are trying to avoid going the Emergency Room unless it is absolutely necessary. New guidelines discuss whether it is absolutely necessary to go to the emergency room after an allergic reaction.

The treatment for severe allergic reactions (anaphylaxis) remains prompt use of injectable epinephrine (EpiPen, Auvi-Q, and generic epinephrine injectors). Typically, we recommend that after using epinephrine for an allergic reaction, you call 911 and go to the ER to get observed. I always try to explain that it is not the injection of the medication that requires the emergency room visit, but the allergic reaction itself. Anaphylaxis is a life-threatening event. One dose of epinephrine, given promptly, usually will resolve the symptoms. However, sometimes as the epinephrine wears off, the allergic reaction can return, and this is the reason for going to the ER.

Knowing that people are hesitant to potentially expose themselves to coronavirus, and that they do not want to over burden the healthcare system, new recommendations for the use of epinephrine in anaphylaxis have been developed for use during the pandemic.

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