Online surveys continue to demonstrate the need to help educate parents of food allergic kids about the importance of reading labels, teaching their children how to avoid food allergens, and ensure they have immediate access to life saving epinephrine at all times.
A survey, conducted by Harris Interactive and commissioned by Mylan Specialty, included more than 300 U.S. parents of children with life-threatening allergies and found that nearly 90% of their children have holiday events planned with friends and family or at school. When self reporting about habits surrounding how they help prevent or prepare for anaphylaxis, less than 60% of parents reported taking some of the commonly recommended measures: talking to their children about avoiding allergens by reviewing food labels (57%); ensuring those they are celebrating with are aware of their allergies (53%) and having access to epinephrine auto-injectors at all times (56%).
Anaphylaxis action plan.
An anaphylaxis action plan needs to be put in place and it is important to talk frequently about it with the allergic child, care givers, and family members. An anaphylaxis action plan should include tips on how to avoid known allergens, recognizing symptoms, having access to two epinephrine auto-injectors and how to seek immediate emergency medical care.
Anaphylaxis can happen anywhere and at any time even when avoiding he food allergens therefore it extremely important to ensure immediate access to appropriate treatment in the event anaphylaxis occurs. Not being prepared by carrying the epipen at all times needs to be unacceptable.
Seven tips every parent with food allergies needs to take.
1. Invitations to parties and events: contacting the host as soon as the invitation arrives will allow you to discuss and review the food menu and find out if there will be an allergy free meal or snack. Also, it will give sufficient time to the person preparing the foods if you request them to make special accommodations. A more simple and the safest solution is to eat at home and bring a snack to the event. If this is not an option, prepared the food and place it inside a disposable aluminum container where it could be re-heated to prevent cross contamination.
2. Traveling: Pack snacks and non-perishable food a carry on bag. Include enough food for the trip and for at least two meals after arriving to your destination. This will give you enough time to look for a supermarket and identify local allergy free restaurants.
Packing prepared frozen meals inside a large cooler is easy and quite a common practice among individuals with special diets. Make sure you buy a large cooler that can keep foods chilled up to at least 24 hours. Also, they must have a strong lock so you can check it-in with the rest of your bags if using public transportation.
Shipping the allergy free food ahead using USPS large flat rate boxes is easy and quite affordable.
3. How and when to use life saving Epipen.
Learn, teach, train, and practice with your kids, family members and friends to ensure everyone knows how to use the Epipen auto injectors. Most people forget how to use the auto injectors four months after being taught, so practice on a regular basis. Use the trainer or practice by injecting expired ones into an orange.
4. Get an Epipen carrier and teach your child to self carry the Epipens.
The safest option is one that attached to your body. Bags, purses, and backpacks should not be even an option to consider because they could be easily misplaced or difficult to remember where they are during an anaphylaxis reaction. The WaistPal and LegBuddy are the two great available options because they are easy to conceal and comfortable to wear just like a soft undergarment piece of clothing.
5. Teach your kids what they can and can't eat.
Please take the time to learn about parenting a child with food allergies and start teaching them as soon as they can communicate with you about the foods they are allergic to. Begin this life saving lesson by showing them pictures of the basic foods they can and cannot eat.
Take them at least once a week to the supermarket which is a great teaching ground. First show them what they can eat and then show them the packages of snacks they cannot eat. If they can read, asked them to read the labels and teach them how to identify the food allergens.
6. Live by example and start self carrying the Epipens on you today.
Before your kid is old enough to carry an Epipen (many start as soon as they enter kindergarten) start wearing an Epicarrier. Put it on every day in front of him/her and little by little asked them to help you put it on. Just like you would asked them to help you put on a belt or how you would teach a child to tie their shoes.
7. Be prepared 24/7
Last but not least, make self carrying the Epipen a rule that your child is not an option. Help them comply by ensuring they have an epicarrier they like and feel comfortable with. Today, this is not such a difficult task because there is a good selection of carriers they can choose from. Start early, and you will be surprise how much they will thank you for it once they can fully understand the fact that not carrying their Epipens will put them at risk of having a fatal anaphylaxis reaction.
Place a bowl or basket in a visible place next to the main entrance of your home or put a hook next to the door to help remind your child to take his/her epicarrier before leaving the house. If you live in a large home, get a second set of epi's and always keep them in the same place. It needs to be a high traffic area and very noticeable to help everyone in the home quickly reach the epinephrine injectors in case of an emergency.
Please take the time to learn and implement each one of the seven steps mentioned in this article. Children with food allergies can have a normal and healthy life. Learning to live a happy normal life with food allergies can be done, you make the commitment to do so.
Mylan Inc. FAAN