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Kids and Food Allergies

March 11, 2009

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the number of U.S. children under the age of 18 who have food or digestive allergies increased 18% in the decade between 1997 and 2007.  Eight types of food account for 90% of all food allergies:  milk, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, fish, shellfish, soy and wheat.  Children with food allergies are two to four times more likely than those without to have other conditions, such as asthma.  To read the full report go to http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/databriefs/db10.pdf.

Unfortunately, no one seems to know why food allergies are becoming more common.  For instance, none of my sisters nor I are allergic to any food items; but one nephew is, and I’m currently attempting (it’s much harder than it sounds) to keep my son on a dairy-free diet for a month to see whether or not he’s sensitive to dairy products.  This is a kid who lives on milk, cheese (any variety) yogurt and blue-cheese dressing (large quantities globbed onto relatively small portions of lettuce – but hey, he’s eating a salad, right?) 

So far rice milk is out (even the chocolate flavored variety – I have to admit it looked pretty watery) and almond milk, especially vanilla flavor, is in.  Coconut milk yogurt was an emphatic NO.  So was the Key Lime soy yogurt, but there are a few other flavors to try.  Tonight we’ll give soy, rice and almond-based “cheeses” a shot to see whether or not any of them are acceptable.  I have yet to find any kind of non-dairy creamy salad dressings (such as blue cheese or ranch) so if anyone can recommend one, I’d appreciate it.

Here are some of the more helpful websites I found while researching kids’ food allergies:

www.kidshealth.org  – All Kidshealth content is reviewed by pediatricians and other medical experts.  This three-in-one website (sections for parents, for kids and for teens) covers health, behavior and development through the teen years.

www.kidswithfoodallergies.org – The resources section is a great place to start.  From this page click on “Reducing the Risks of Food Allergies” (under “Basics”) and at the bottom of this page you’ll find some more helpful links. 

www.foodallergy.org– The Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Network’s (FAAN) website.  This is a fabulous resource for parents, and also has links to FAAN websites geared toward kids and another for teens.  The teen FAAN website is especially well done.

I also googled “food allergy alert products” and came up with all kinds of links for clothing (from bibs to t-shirts) books and med-alert bracelets.  www.FoodAllergyBooks.com has quite a few products listed on their Merchandise page.

I happen to know the moms who created a very versatile food allergy alert product, Eyedentity Label temporary tattoos (http://www.eyedentitylabel.com/savvymom/).  You customize the info on the bright red and yellow design based on whatever your child is allergic to, apply it to the back of their hand, and send them off to school, a play date, a birthday party, wherever…knowing that both the child and any supervising adult have a vivid visual reminder that literally sticks with your child no matter where they go or what they do.

allergic-to-nuts

So now I’m off in search of palatable dairy-free ice cream.  (As my husband said, doesn’t that kind of defeat the purpose?)  Wish me luck…

 

 

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