Childhood Food Allergies On The Rise

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Many children are bringing home notes from teachers, alerting parents of a child in the classroom with food allergies.

It is a potentially deadly condition that affects about two children in each classroom.

For Ian Varga, there are few things that get in the way of running, jumping and swinging with his friends on a warm afternoon.

One potential obstacle is what is called anaphylaxis, which is a sudden and severe allergic reaction.

“He basically had hives all over his face; he swelled up,” said mother Liz Varga.

Varga said that a peanut butter sandwich led them to discover Ian’s severe nut allergy.

“I wasn’t very versed in what anaphylaxis was,” the mother said. “I basically thought it was some type of allergic reaction, but I didn’t recognize it was so severe.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported in a 2008 study that food allergies are on the rise.

The report stated that there was an 18 percent increase in food allergies between 1997 and 2007.

Peanut or nut allergies are the most life-threatening.

Every three minutes, a food allergy reaction sends someone to an emergency department.

The CDC reports that more than 300,000 outpatient visits yearly for kids under the age of 18.

“Some research is now showing that the sooner you introduce a food that can help prevent the allergy,” said Dr. Amber Patterson. “There seems to be some window of time the allergy can be provoked and that’s what we don’t really have a good handle on.”

Doctors do know that the first way to avoid an allergic reaction is to avoid the trigger.

There is also the life-saving drug epinephrine.

“When you have an allergic reaction, you may experience lip swelling, coughing, difficulty breathing, profuse vomiting, so the epinephrine helps take those symptoms away,” Patterson said.

Ian carries an EpiPen and asks questions before he eats anything.

“He knows he can’t eat baked goods and things like that without reading the label first,” his mother said. “He also sits at a peanut-free table at his school.”

Epinephrine comes in auto-injectors like the Adrena click or the EpiPen. There is now a new compact called the Auvi-Q compact. It talks users through the injection process, step-by-step.

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