Food Allergy Awareness Isn’t Enough

Parents, caretakers might be responsible for many children’s allergic reactions

According to ABC, nearly 8 percent of children across the U.S. are victim to food allergies, many of which can be life-threatening. Because of the severity of this condition, it is imperative that parents and guardians keep a watchful eye. But what happens if the parents themselves don’t know where the allergens are? Or worse yet, what if parents are aware of dangerous traces, but feed them to their kids anyway?

A groundbreaking study published in Pediatrics last week examines how and why children have allergic reactions when the parents and caretakers are well-aware of the child’s food allergies. The study reveals that most reactions occur because of a lack of vigilance, uncovering the importance of parent education. Milk, eggs, and peanuts are among the deadliest food allergies and also the ones most commonly ignored on nutrition labels. Even small traces of these three ingredients can set off an allergic reaction, endangering a child’s life if he or she is not in a position to seek help.

"The bottom line is that you have to maintain a high level of vigilance," said Dr. Scott Sicherer of Mount Sinai Hospital. "That applies to the parents, but also to other people taking care of the child."

According to the study, more than half of the allergic reactions occurred when caretakers provided food for the children. This amplifies the importance of parent and caretaker education as well as vigilance when reading nutrition labels for hidden allergens.

But children can’t be isolated in nut-free zones forever. They must be educated about the severity of their allergy. They need to know how to avoid contact with it, how to properly read labels, and most importantly, how to seek help if they start to react. For more information about food allergies and how to prevent them, click here.