Halloween is a time to indulge candy, dress in a costume, and have a lot of spooky fun. It is one of those holidays that is completely centered around candy and partaking in activities themed around food. However, some parents and caregivers of children are apprehensive or fearful, not because of the rumored haunted house down the street but for an entirely different reason—their child has a peanut allergy.
Peanut Allergies in Children
For some, food allergies are not addressed daily, much less a passing thought. Nevertheless, an estimated 8 percent of children in the United States are affected. That is 1 in 13 children or approximately two students per classroom. Symptoms of food allergies range from mild, such as skin rashes, to anaphylactic shock, the most severe allergic response.
Not only do children with a peanut or other food allergy experience physical repercussions, they also may deal with psychological and societal impacts. For example, children have reportedly been bullied, mocked, or harassed by their peers. It is important to promote acceptance and inclusivity and express that each child is unique.
Preventing Allergic Reactions
It is difficult to balance the need to keep children with food allergies safe while also making them feel included. The frightening realization is that there is no cure for food allergies. The only way to prevent a reaction is to avoid the food allergen completely. This is often easier said than done. Many people and facilities deal with this issue, including individuals with an allergy, parents, caregivers, childcare facility directors, principals, event coordinators, churches, and many other entities.
So, what can you do about this issue? Awareness is a key component to success. Throughout any holiday, but especially during Halloween, it is important to discuss the dangers of food allergens. Start a conversation with someone in your community to spread awareness. It is also vital to keep an open line of communication with anyone that cares for a child with a food allergy.
The Centers for Disease and Control (CDC), US Department of Education, several other federal agencies, and many stakeholders have developed guidelines to managing food allergies in schools and early-care and education programs. The Voluntary Guidelines for Managing Food Allergies In Schools and Early Care and Education Programs provide practical information and recommendations for each of the five priority areas that should be addressed in a school or early childhood education program’s food allergy management and prevention plan. You can find this resource at cdc.gov.
For additional guidance on food allergies, speak with your child’s doctor.