Taking the Fear Out of Food Allergies

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Sending a child with food allergies to school can be stressful. The American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology, cautions that parents and schools need to take measures to ensure the safety of the more than 2.2 million American students with food allergies. 

Food allergy, an abnormal response to a food triggered by your bodys immune system, can cause serious illness and death. The most common food allergies we see today are tree nuts, peanuts — the leading causes of deadly allergic reactions called anaphylaxis — cows milk, eggs, soy, wheat, fish, and shellfish. 

Knowing that your child has the potential to be exposed to an adverse food at school is unnerving; however, there are vital steps a parent can take in cooperation with the school to ensure the childs safety.

Steps for parents to take

1. Develop a food allergy action plan with your childs doctor

2. Notify the school of the childs allergies

3. Work with the school team to develop a plan that accommodates the childs needs throughout the school, including the classroom, cafeteria, after-care programs, during school sponsored activities, and on the school bus

4. Educate the child in the self-management of their food allergy:
a)  Safe and unsafe foods
b)  Strategies for avoiding exposure to unsafe foods
c)  Symptoms of allergic reactions
d)  How and when to tell an adult they may be having an allergy-related problem
e)  How to read food labels  (if age appropriate).

Steps for the child to take

1.  Do not trade food with others

2.  Do not eat anything with unknown ingredients or known to contain any allergen

3.  Be proactive in the care and management of their food allergies and reactions

based on their developmental level.

4.  Notify an adult immediately if they eat something they believe may contain food to which they are allergic.

For parents who are looking for some great recipes, www.kidswithallergies.com is an excellent resource. Just $25 per year provides access to hundreds of allergy-free recipes, meals ideas, newsletters, etc Always consult with a registered dietitian to ensure your child is getting the necessary nutrients.

Estela Schnelle is a Registered Dietitian/Nutritionist who lives in Del Ray. 

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