The number of children with food allergies is on the rise. According to FARE, it’s estimated that 15 million Americans have food allergies, including 5.9 million children under age 18. That’s 1 in 13 children, or roughly two in every classroom.
- Compared to children who don’t have food allergy, children with food allergies are two to four times as likely to have other allergic conditions, such as asthma or eczema.
- Allergies to peanuts, tree nuts, fish and shellfish are generally lifelong.
- Caring for children with food allergies costs U.S. families nearly $25 billion annually.
- Compared to children who do not have a medical condition, children with food allergies are twice as likely to be bullied. About 1 in 3 children with food allergy reports being bullied.
- Delaying introduction of allergenic foods does not provide protection against food allergy. Feeding peanut foods early and often to babies with egg allergy or eczema could their risk of developing peanut allergy.
I became a Food Allergy Mama two years ago and I still feel like a newbie. I know to read labels, ask questions, and take food away if it’s questionable or unsafe. But now that L is more active, is in school, and making friends (sooo, not needing me as much), I’m starting to worry about what the future will be like. More and more lately, I’ve found myself searching for products that will not only make communicating his allergy a little more easy when I’m not with him, but also be prepared should he accidentally eat something containing peanuts.
Allergy Alert Stickers
I am a HUGE Mabel’s Labels fan. Their personalized name stickers and labels have stood up to a couple years of washing and beating the boys have put on the clothes, toys, and sippy cups we’ve used them on.
So far, we’ve used the iron-on clothing labels and the personalized stickers, but next on my list are their Allergy Alert stickers. L’s been cleared of his tree-nut and coconut allergies (WHOO!) and we’re just down to peanuts. Now that we only have one food to be cautious of, I plan to order these for his lunch box and backpack:
Mabel’s Labels Allergy stickers are food-specific and come in your choice of one of the 8 common food allergies: Dairy, Egg, Fish, Gluten, Peanut, Shellfish, Soy, or Tree Nut Allergy). They also offer customizable allergy alert lables if you’d like a fun image vs a food.
Mabel’s Labels is having a sale in honor of Allergy Awareness Month: 50% off their Allergy Stickers and Labels during the month of May!
We have to take L’s EpiPens everywhere. At the beginning of the school year, I was able to use one of his refills to get a set for preschool. But with limited refills that I’d like to keep “Just In Case,” I’m constantly taking our set out and moving it between my purse and the backpack we use as a diaper bag. They also can’t be left in the heat or kept too cold so they have to be kept on our person or in the same building as L.
EpiPens can cost nearly $700 without insurance. (Those “lovely” co-pay cards can help. But even then, who has $300-$400 laying around if you’re one of the ones paying out of pocket?) Keeping them as safe as possible is important. Having an insulated or padded case can provide an extra level of protection for your injectors if they’re being moved around like ours.
I worry about how L will carry his epinephrine pens with him when he’s older, especially if he needs the Epi-Pen vs something smaller like the Auvi-Q. Teenagers and young adults with food allergies are at the highest risk of fatal food-induced anaphylaxis. EpiPens are big and bulky; they don’t fit in your pocket or a small purse. And if you’re active, they aren’t going to fit in your gym shorts.
I love this belt from SPIbelt that will expand to hold both pens, and it comes in a lot of different colors:There are also holsters for kids and adults. This one is water resistant which can add another level of protection for when you’re somewhere there is water. I wouldn’t advise swimming with EpiPens on your person. But these could give them some protection if you’re walking to and from a pool, lake or water park.
L doesn’t have an interest in being told what to wear right now, so I think we have a few years before we suggest an allergy alert bracelet. But there are a number of different kinds on the market. I’ve read some people wear them on their ankles because they don’t like wearing things on their wrists.