It was a few weeks after our twin boys’ first birthday, about 5 p.m. on a Saturday, when my wife came outside while I was cutting grass. She knows I don’t want anyone outside while I mow.
Max, our oldest, was having an allergic reaction to some peanut butter he had smeared on his face. I was panicked. She was calmer. She had called a local pediatrician’s hotline, and the nurse advised giving him some children’s Benadryl and watching to see if his reaction worsened. If so, we were to rush him to the emergency room (not long ago our community got a dedicated children’s emergency room).
The full extent of Max’s allergy is yet to be determined by an upcoming visit to an allergist. And his identical brother, Wyatt, who didn’t get into the peanut butter, will also have a panel of tests run. With children always getting into things they shouldn’t, it's possible it's something besides the peanut butter that triggered the rash.
Roughly three million kids in this country suffer from food allergies, according to a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study. Reactions can range from temporary discomfort all the way to death in extreme cases. So, what’s a conscientious parent to do?
When in doubt, cut it out, says Erin Everhart, a spokeswoman for Hope Paige Designs, a maker of medical ID bracelets. That’s the best advice when it comes to protecting children from food allergies. If you discover a certain type of food causes health problems for your kids – and usually, the reaction is stumbled upon, as in our case – eliminate it from your children’s diets.
Most Common Offenders
The Food and Drug Administration has identified eight foods that it says account for 90 percent of allergic reactions. Here’s a list of the biggest offenders:
- Crustacean shellfish
- Tree nuts
Federal law requires manufacturers to list all major food allergens on labels. The FDA recommends that you read food labels carefully, checking for these ingredients if your child may be allergic to any of them.