Food allergies in children
If your child has food allergies, it is important to work with your child's doctor and your child's school to develop a written emergency plan.
Because your children spend much of their time at school or child care centers, the staff at these centers should be well educated about accommodating your child's food allergy and handling an allergic reaction. Food anaphylaxis is a life-threatening condition that must be handled quickly and appropriately.
What is food anaphylaxis?
Food anaphylaxis is a sudden, severe allergic reaction, which can involve the skin, respiratory tract, gastrointestinal tract and cardiovascular system. It is potentially fatal. Most life-threatening reactions in children and adolescents are caused by peanuts or tree nuts.
Signs and symptoms
Signs and symptom vary depending on the child. Common symptom of an allergic reaction include:
- Tingling sensation or itching in the mouth
- Swelling or flushed skin
- Sneezing, coughing, wheezing
- Abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea
- Increased heart rate, drop in blood pressure, lightheadedness and shock
Your child may display one symptom or many when experiencing food anaphylaxis. The main thing is to determine when emergency action is necessary.
Your child's emergency plan
Because you know your child best, work with your child's pediatrician, family doctor or allergist to determine what should be done if your child is thought to be have ingested a food he or she is allergic to.
Some physicians recommend treatment (usually a dose of epinephrine and antihistamine) before symptoms occur; others prefer to wait for a reaction before treating. You and your child's doctor need to determine the best course of action based on our child's medical history and your preference.
A written emergency plan should include:
- Amount of medication to be given and when. Medications need to be on hand at the school or child care center.
- Telephone numbers of parents, guardians
- Telephone number of child's primary care doctor and emergency transport information
- Make sure it is clear that emergency treatment should not be delayed even if they cannot reach you or your child's doctor
- Make sure your child wears a MedicAlert bracelet indicating what she or he is allergic to and the treatment for a reaction.
Provided by The Children's Medical Center of Dayton
About The Children's Medical Center of Dayton
The Children's Medical Center of Dayton is the region's pediatric referral center for 20 Ohio counties and eastern Indiana. At Dayton Children's, there is a full-time dedication to caring for infants, children and teens. Specially trained and experienced pediatric specialists in over 35 specialty areas work as a team to make sure the medical and psychosocial needs of children and their families are met. We also have a number of community-based services as well.