3 Things You Need to Know About Food Allergies and Your Child
There are over 3 million children with food allergies in the United States. Allergic reactions don’t take very much, and happens every time a child eats the food. Food allergies can be life threatening. Food intolerance starts slowly with mild symptoms, but gradually the symptoms get worse. Having information about the causes, symptoms and treatments available is important. Your child should not suffer with a food allergy if it can be avoided.
Know the Symptoms of an Allergic Reaction
Knowing the symptoms can help you understand what is happening to your child. Look for the following:
Food allergies and food intolerance share these symptoms:
Allergic reactions can also include these symptoms:
Rash, hives, or itchy skin
Shortness of breath
Sudden drop in blood pressure
These last three are life-threatening. If your child exhibits them, call 911 immediately.
Common Causes of Food Allergies
There are 8 foods responsible for 90% of all food allergies. These are:
Tree nuts (such as walnuts, pecans and almonds)
If you notice any of the reactions after your child eats or drinks one of these foods take note. If the reactions appear serious, get medical attention immediately. Keeping a journal of foods that cause any type of reaction will be helpful in determining whether your child has an allergy or an intolerance. Avoiding any foods that trigger a reaction is a good place to start.
Allergy Treatment is Essential For Your Child’s Well-Being
Knowing the symptoms and trigger foods are important. But the most important step is to seek medical help. Having your child checked by a pediatrician can narrow down trigger foods. You will also get information on how to treat a life-threatening event. It is vital that you complete this step both for your peace of mind and the wellness of your child.
Germ Prevention Strategies
- Encourage your child to cough or sneeze into a tissue or onto his/her sleeve.
- Discourage your child from covering his/her mouth with hands while coughing.
- Throw away tissues immediately after each use by throwing them in a wastebasket.
- If your child is old enough, teach him/her how to blow their nose into a tissue.
- Do not allow your child to share pacifiers, drinking cups, eating utensils, towels, or toothbrushes if he/she is sick, or with others who are sick.
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
- Have your child stay at home if he/she is sick to prevent others from catching the illness.
- Avoid touching eyes, nose or mouth.
- Ensuring your hands are washed and the kitchen surfaces are cleaned before and after preparing meals.
- Cleaning your cutting board or kitchen surface after preparing raw meats.
- Cooking ground meat all the way through.
- Washing raw vegetables and fruit before eating.
- Avoiding raw or undercooked eggs.
- Cooking frozen foods right after it has been defrosted.
- Storing leftovers in the refrigerator or freezer right away to prevent germ growth.
If you are going to be using a used car seat, make sure to research the seats history. Things to check for is if it comes with instructions and a label showing the manufacturer, if it has been recalled, if it is more than six years old, if it has no visible damage or missing parts, and if it has never been in a moderate or severe crash. If you don’t know the history, don’t use it.
Properly placing the car seat is vital. The safest place for your child’s car seat is in the back seat, away from active air bags. A child who rides forward facing in a car seat can also be harmed by air bags. If only one seat is being installed in the back seat, place it in the middle, rather than next to a door to minimize the risk of injury during a crash.
Do not use your car seat as a place for your child to sleep at home. Studies have shown that sitting upright in a car seat too often might compress a newborn’s chest and lead to lower levels of oxygen. Sitting in a car seat for lengthy periods of time can also cause the development of a flat spot on the back of the head, as well as gastroesophageal reflux disease.
Correctly buckling your child in a car seat is also very important. Be sure to read the car seat instructions and the vehicle’s owner’s manual section on car seats. The car seat should not move more than one inch when moved from side to side.
Keep your child rear facing as long as possible. Riding rear faced is recommended until the child reaches the age of 2, or 35 pounds.
Insect Repellents and Your Kids
- Chemical repellents with DEET: Considered the best defense against biting insects. It works for about 2 to 5 hours. Caution should be used when applying DEET repellent to children.
- Picaridin and essential oil repellents: Works for about 3 to 8 hours. Still needs more studies to show how well it repels ticks. Since it is made from essential oils, allergic reactions can occur.
- Chemical repellents with permethrin: A repellent that kills ticks on contact. Survives several washings and should only be applied on clothing.
- Non-effective repellents: Wristbands with chemical repellents, garlic or vitamin B1 taken by mouth, ultrasonic devices that give off sound, bird or bat houses, and backyard bug zappers.
How to Use Repellents Safely
- Read the label and follow the directions
- Only apply the repellent outside of clothing and on exposed skin
- Spray in an open area
- Use only enough to cover your child’s clothing and exposed skin
- An adult should always apply insect repellent on your child
- Wash your child with soap and water to remove the repellent when your child returns indoors
- Dressing your child in thin, loose-fitting, long-sleeve clothing that doesn't include bright colors
- Encouraging your child to wear socks and shoes instead of sandals
- Avoiding spending time outdoors during the evening to early morning hours (dusk to dawn). This is when mosquitoes tend to bite the most
- Avoiding scented soaps and other things that might attract mosquitoes and other bugs
- Using a bug screen over your child's stroller
- Controlling mosquitoes and other insects where your child plays
- Carefully inspect your playground equipment. It is recommended that you have a proper shock-absorbing surface underneath your playground. Also, be sure that the play set is properly anchored to the ground, that surfaces are smooth, that there are no protruding bolts and that all “S” shaped hooks are closed all of the way.
- If you have a sandbox for your child, you will want to line it with landscape fabric to prevent weeds from growing up and to simplify water drainage. Covering the sandbox is also a good idea in order to keep pets and rodents, as well as their droppings, out of the sandbox.
- Be sure all landscape supplies and equipment are stored and secured in a locked shed.
- Pools are vital when it comes to backyard safety. Be sure your pool is properly barricaded. Install a fence that is at least four feet tall and make sure there are no weak areas that your child can squeeze through. The gate to the pool should also have a self-locking mechanism so that your child cannot open it. Pool alarms can be purchased to alert you if your child has opened the gate or if someone has fallen into the pool. Remove steps and ladders if the pool is not in use.
- Check the fences in your yard. Be sure there is no loose hardware, splinters and missing slats.
- Outdoor furniture should be checked to make sure it is sturdy and safe. Garden swings should properly be secured to the ground.
- Outdoor electric outlets should have childproof outlets so that your child cannot open it.
- An outdoor grill or barbecue should be stored and secured when not in use. Propane tanks, matches and lighter fluid, as well as sharp utensils, should not be accessible to your child at any time. Also, never leave the cooking area unsupervised when using the grill.
- A simple outdoor safety precaution is to ensure your child wears proper footwear and snug fit clothing. Clothing that is loose fit or has drawstrings and accessories can easily become caught on play equipment.
- Talk to your child about rules and boundaries when playing outside. This can help your child play safe by establishing areas that are off limits, rules for slides, play equipment and other toys.
- Check out the plants in your backyard to be sure none of them are poisonous.
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