-- Mary Elizabeth Dallas
THURSDAY, Oct. 31 (HealthDay News) -- Halloween activities, such
as parties and trick-or-treating, could be dangerous for children
with food allergies, a medical expert warns.
Even mild food allergies that result in watery eyes or a rash
could become more severe after a child is re-exposed to an
allergen, said Dr. Joyce Rabbat, a pediatric allergy specialist
with the Loyola University Health System, in Chicago.
"Food allergies can be tricky," Rabbat said in a Loyola news release. "Just because a child had a mild reaction, such as a rash, the first time doesn't mean it can't be more serious the next time."
Halloween parties featuring tempting treats become more
worrisome with the number of U.S. kids with food allergies on the
rise. During the past decade, there has been an 18 percent surge in
the number of children with food allergies, according to the news
release. That means 6 percent to 8 percent of children currently
have at least one food allergy.
Although some food allergies are mild, others can trigger a
dangerous reaction known as anaphylaxis, which progresses quickly
and can cause airway swelling and low blood pressure. In extreme
cases, anaphylaxis can affect a person's ability to breath and
cause them to lose consciousness.
"While nut allergies have the reputation for causing severe reactions, any food allergy could result in a severe reaction like anaphylaxis," said Rabbat, who also is an assistant professor of pediatrics and internal medicine at the Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine. "Halloween candy often contains common allergens, such as peanuts, tree nuts, milk and eggs."
Rabbat recommended several steps parents or caregivers can take
to ensure their child's safety during Halloween festivities,
Parents also can take steps to make sure their kids with food
allergies are safe while trick-or-treating. Rabbat said kids with
food allergies should not trick-or-treat alone, and they should
carry self-injectable epinephrine.
Once trick-or-treaters return home, parents should sort through
their candy and remove any potential allergens. When in doubt about
a particular treat, parents should play it safe and throw it away,
"Although having a food allergy is serious, kids should still be able to have fun," she said. "The key is education. Make sure your child knows what he or she can eat. When in doubt, throw it out."
It's important to note that smaller or "fun-sized" candy may
contain different ingredients than the regular-sized versions,
Rabbat said. She said anyone who has consumed a food that contains
an allergen should brush their teeth and wash their hands before
hugging or kissing a child with a food allergy.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offers more
Halloween health and safety tips.
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