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Friday, October 19, 2007

Avoiding Allergens at Halloween

The American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology (AAAAI) issued a statement yesterday, Trick-or-Treat Your Way to an Allergy-Free Halloween. They're concerned about food-related anaphylaxis, which leads to 150-200 deaths every year. (I presume those are total deaths for the year, not just Halloween related fatalities.)

Symptoms of anaphylaxis include severe headache, nausea and vomiting, sneezing and coughing, hives, swelling of the lips, tongue and throat, and itching all over the body. The most dangerous symptoms include difficulty breathing, a drop in blood pressure, and shock -- all of which can be fatal.

If any of these symptoms occur, give the child self-injectable epinephrine, call 911 immediately, and schedule a follow-up appointment with your allergist/immunologist.

They also offer some helpful advice so that parents can avoid that call to 911.
► When classroom parties are planned, parents can help by packing treats from home that their food-allergic child can eat.

► Create a "candy swap" with siblings or friends so that allergen-containing candies can be traded for other treats such as stickers or toys.

► Take the focus off of trick-or-treating by hosting a costume party that emphasizes fun instead of candy. Halloween stickers, pencils, spider rings and stamps are great alternatives for goody bags.

► Provide neighbors with allergy-safe candies for your child or ask neighbors to hand out only candy with individualized labels -- so kids with allergies can determine whether the treat is safe to eat or not.

► Teach children to politely refuse offers of cookies and other homemade treats.

► Remember that candy ingredients can vary for different sizes of the same product such as full-size candy bars and their miniature versions, which are not always individually labeled.

For more information, visit the AAAAI's Web site, www.aaaai.org.

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