Researchers estimate that approximately 15 million Americans have a food allergy. This includes 1 in every 13 children, which translates to approximately two in every classroom! Here’s another statistic that might be hard to stomach: Every three minutes, someone in the U.S. is sent to the emergency room because of a food allergy, resulting in 200,000 ER visits per year.
While there are no cures for food allergies, strict avoidance of allergens, along with early recognition and management of allergic reactions, is essential in preventing serious health consequences. Eight foods account for 90 percent of all reactions: milk, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, soy, wheat, fish and shellfish. Even trace amounts of a food allergen can cause a reaction, and there is no way to predict what the severity may be.
Tips to keep kids safe
If you have a child, or know of a child with a food allergy, here are some tips to help keep them safe:
- Learn what foods they are allergic to and have alternatives on hand
- Since ingredients can change, always keep labels to make sure the food is still allergen-free
- Never share food
- Wash your hands after you eat to eliminate any traces of allergens
- Learn all you can about food allergies
Taking these steps will not only help keep kids safe, but it also can help them not feel left out. With a little planning, we can all do our part in the fight against food allergies.
Additional information and resources
To learn more about food allergies, I encourage you to visit the Food Allergy Research & Education website. Also, you may want to check out the following online grocery stores for buying allergen-free foods:
– Mary Beth Feuling, MS, RD, CSP, CD, advanced practice dietitian, Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin
Dietitians at Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin are specially trained to provide the best nutritional care for children.