10 Things Every Family Must Know About Food Allergies
Every family needs to have a basic understanding of food allergies. Why? Here are some facts that surprised us:
- 1 in 3 kids with food allergies say they get bullied for it
- Only 8 foods, by law, must be labeled on packaging.
- 200,000 trips are made to the ER every year because of food allergies
- Numbers are growing in the US and now one knows why. Between 1990 and 2011 the number of people with food allergies doubled.
So read this and be informed so you are prepared and inclusive! Here we go!
- What is a Food Allergy?
When your body (your immune system) has a negative reaction to food.
- Reactions can range from life threatening to feeling unpleasant.
- Majority of reactions come from eating food, but for some even just touching or breathing a food can trigger a reaction.
- Over 170 foods can cause a reaction, but 8 are most common.
- The big 8.
The 8 most common foods people are allergic to are: milk, egg, peanuts, tree nuts (like walnuts or pecans), wheat, soy, fish, and shellfish (like lobster, shrimp or crab). They account for 90% of all food allergies.
- Let’s talk labels- but only for the big 8.
Did you know that federal law requires only these 8 foods, called ‘major allergens’ to be labelled on packaged foods? Let’s stop and pause on this… that means any other food does not need to be labeled. What a pain! One big one that is missing is sesame! If you are allergic to something other than these 8 foods, when in doubt you should call the manufacturer to ask. There will be a number on the package or on their website.
- Food allergy reactions are serious and unpredictable.
Reactions can be mild or severe. Mild symptoms are hives or itchy nose. Severe symptoms include trouble breathing, repetitive vomiting, weak pulse. Symptoms usually start 2 minutes to 2 hours after exposure. A previous reaction does no predict the future. Always be vigilant!
Anaphalaxis is the most dangerous reaction to a food allergy. It can happen quickly, and it can be deadly. For some people, anaphylaxis can make it hard to breathe or hard for the body to circulate blood. When this happens, the treatment is epinephrine.
If your child has been diagnosed with a food allergy we recommend you start by completing your Emergency Care Plan. Why? Please do it. It is better to be prepared! About 40% of kids that have a food allergy have had a severe reaction.
- Where do food allergies come from?
We don’t really know. We do know it is not your fault if your child has a food allergy! Family history appears to play some role. If a child has eczema, or asthma there is a greater risk. However, food allergies are on the rise, so many children have food allergies when there parents do not.
- Preventing allergic reactions and food allergies
The only way to to prevent a reaction is by avoiding the food your child is allergic to. Over 200,000 trips are made every year to the ER because of food allergies.
Don’t want that to happen to you? It sounds extremely scary. There are some things you can do when pregnant and when your baby first starts solid foods to try and prevent food allergies from developing. Dr. Maria is going to take this on our next blog post!
- Is there a cure?
Not yet. There is research happening right now exploring how to treat food allergies and the future is bright!
- What about growing out of food allergies, is that a thing?
Sorta. Peanut, tree nut, fish and shellfish allergies are usually life long. Milk, egg, wheat and soy allergies usually begin in childhood and eventually may be outgrown. Only reintroduce foods with your allergist.
- Is a food allergy the same thing as a food intolerance?
Nope! Different. A food allergy is an immune reaction and can be deadly. An intolerance is a digestive reaction. Both are every day realities for families and Foublie is here to help. If you suspect your child has a food allergy, it is important to confirm it with your doctor. Remember the difference is immune response vs. digestive response.
- My kids don’t have food allergies.
You still should care about food allergies! Today there are almost 6 million kids in the US with a food allergy, that is 2 in every classroom. And there is still a chance you or your child could have a food allergy later in life. 15% of new food allergies are diagnosed in adulthood. No one really understands why, but the number of people with food allergies has doubled between 1997 and 2011.
And we all have a role in making kids feel included. 1 in 3 children that have a food allergy report being bullied for it So stop complaining about those cupcakes you couldn’t bring in and make a different recipe. Kids hear you and are being mean.
Halloween is coming and we are going to share some tricks and treats to make everyone feel welcome!