Elementary Schools have many children with food allergies. A food allergy is an abnormal response to a food triggered by the immune system. The body's immune system, which is designed to protect us from harmful substances, mistakenly believes that harmless substances are in fact poison to the body. So, in an attempt to "protect" itself, the body produces antibodies to fight off the offending food. These same antibodies can trigger: swelling of the tongue and throat, difficulty breathing, hives, vomiting, abdominal cramps, diarrhea, drop in blood pressure, loss in consciousness, death.
Common food allergies in children are eggs, milk, peanuts, tree nuts, soy, fish, shell fish and wheat. Children typicallly outgrow their allergies to milk, egg, soy and wheat. However, allergies to peanuts, tree nuts, fish and shell fish are not regularly outgrown.
Food allergies can cause an immediate reaction - within a few minutes to an hour of ingesting the troublesome food. The body can quickly produce antibodies that may lead to an anaphylactic reaction. Anaphylaxis is a severe allergic reaction to food. It can cause airway constriction (a swollen throat making it difficult to breath). Shock can occur (a severe drop in blood pressure). A rapid pulse (heart rate), dizziness and loss of consciousness may follow next.
Delayed food allergies can occur as well. These reactins may take up to three days to appear. This type of allergy is usually dependent on the quantity of the food taken in and the reaction is less severe.
Students who suffer from food allergies should ALWAYS know exactly what it is they are eating or drinking. Labels must be carefully read - each and every time a food is consumed. Medical bracelets should be worn. Some require special life saving medications near by (Epinephrine) at all times.
Students and families that do not suffer from food allergies can also help out. There is to be no "food sharing" at snack or lunch time. All foods sent in to be used as a group treat (for example for birthday and class parties) should at least be peanut and tree nut free. Please send in packaging so that labels can be read and ingredients verified.
Let's all work together to keep all of our children safe.