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Plan Ahead to Keep Your Allergic Little Pumpkin Safe from Scary Stuff at Halloween
By Lynda Mitchell
Halloween can either be scary or fun — or sometimes even both! With young children, we usually prefer a Halloween filled with fun and try to avoid the scary. The scary parts of Halloween are supposed to involve ghosts and witches, not the candy.
Years ago, when my son Matt was 1 1/2 years old, I took him trick-or-treating for the first time. We kept it simple — he was dressed in his cute little pumpkin costume, and we walked all the way to our neighbor’s house next door. At the time, he was allergic to milk and a number of other foods. Our neighbor was thrilled to see him all dressed up for the occasion, and Matt was simply delighted to be given a piece of candy in a colorful wrapper. It was a Snickers bar, milk chocolate candy with peanuts — an allergy cocktail! Although I knew it was an unsafe treat, I decided to let him carry it for the very short walk back to our home.
As soon as I got in the house, I noticed that his face was covered with hives. I took a closer look, and realized he had bitten into the Snickers bar, paper and all! Almost instantly, his face swelled, he vomited, and he began wheezing. I quickly gave him Benadryl and started his asthma nebulizer treatment. I didn’t have an EpiPen. In fact, I didn’t even know what an EpiPen was at the time. He was upset and crying, and I was quite shaken by the whole scene. After a few hours, he was fine. That was my first real experience with anaphylaxis. I really wasn’t adequately prepared to manage the reaction, and I did not know it was a potentially life-threatening situation that should have resulted in a trip to the Emergency Room.
The experience made me realize that one little bite CAN hurt. It also proved that we must not allow little children to hold a piece of candy that is allergenic, even if it is wrapped. And we need to have a good allergy management plan, since we never know if the next reaction will be anaphylactic.
So, be very careful this Halloween, especially with your little ones! Make sure your plan is in place; what will you do with that unsafe candy? And, hopefully, you will have a Halloween filled with happy, fun memories, leaving "scary" for the costumes and haunted houses.
Lynda Mitchell is the Founder and President of Kids With Food Allergies, Inc.
This article first appeared in KFA's Fall 2006 issue of Support Net™ e-magazine. (requires Adobe Reader ). Updated October 2008.
Download KFA's free booklet with tips on safe trick-or-treating and other fun Halloween activities for food allergic children:
Celebrating Halloween with Food Allergies (requires Adobe Reader )