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Food allergy education, advocacy, and support

Newly Diagnosed

If you have just learned that your child has a true food allergy you might feel flooded with many thoughts and emotions. Trying to make sense of the test results and figuring out what foods are safe and unsafe for your child can be very verwhelming. Everyone finds their own comfort level and way to manage their child’s food allergies. Here are some first steps that you may consider taking:

ALLERGIST/DOCTOR:

If you haven’t already, find a pediatric allergist. If you have any questions about your child’s test results, be sure to schedule a follow-up visit with your allergist. Prior to your appointment, write down a list of questions and consider bringing another adult with you so you have a second “set of ears” to help hear the information you are given. As a rule, always consult your doctor or allergist for any medical concerns you have regarding your family’s health and safety.

EDUCATE:

Consider joining the Food Allergy Research and Education (FARE) network.  This national organization is an invaluable source of information.

INFORM:

Read…Read…Read! Being an informed parent is the best way to help protect your child and manage his/her food allergies. Gather as much information as possible about your child’s particular allergy. There are many food allergy books and videos to help get you started. (Refer to the “Resources” on our website) Remember, always to check with your own doctor about information you receive on the internet.

MEDICATION:

Always carry an EpiPen®/Auvi-Qt™ and all medications your doctor wants you to have when a reaction occurs.

  • Get trained to use the epi auto-injector of your choice: EpiPen® or Auvi-Qt™.
  • Follow your doctor’s instructions exactly when a reaction occurs.
  • Call 911 after using your EpiPen®/Auvi-Qt™, even when a reaction appears to go away. Ask for “Advanced Life Support.”
  • Carry the EpiPen®/Auvi-Qt™ with you at all times. NEVER leave home without it.
  • Arrange to have an extra EpiPen®/Auvi-Qt™ and other medications at your child’s school, babysitter, or daycare.
  • EpiPen®/Auvi-Qt™ come in a set of two…do NOT split them up! An extra may be needed if one misfires or wears off before you get further medical attention.
  • Do not store your EpiPen®/Auvi-Qt™ in extreme heat or cold (i.e. your car). The medication is very sensitive to temperature extremes and it could be rendered ineffective.

EMERGENCY PLAN:

Develop an Emergency Action Plan with your allergist. An Emergency Action Plan is a form that lists the signs of an allergic reaction and what to do if a reaction occurs. Keep a copy of the plan with your emergency medications and consider other convenient locations to post (e.g. your refrigerator, your calendar, etc.). Distribute and review this plan with EVERYONE who cares for your child.

MEDICAL ID:

Consider getting a medical identification bracelet for your child. Emergency medical workers are trained to recognize these and can use them to get important information. These bracelets are also a good “visual reminder” for your child as well as for your child’s caretakers and teachers that there is a food allergy to be aware of.

AVOID THE ALLERGEN:

Learn to read labels! Read them each and every time you buy the product and prior to eating. The manufacturing process may have changed.

  • Eat only what is clearly labeled.
  • Don’t eat products that may come in contact with allergen-containing foods.
  • Have a new family rule, “If you can’t read it, you can’t eat it!”
  • Teach your child to know what foods are safe and unsafe for them.
  • Tell your child not to share foods with friends.
  • Consider food allergy books and videos just for children to help them learn about their food allergy. (Refer to the “Resources” on our website.)

SAFE FOODS:

Be prepared and carry “safe” snacks to eat whenever you are away from home.

  • Bring a “safe treat” for your child when he/she attends a Birthday Party.
  • When Birthdays are celebrated in your child’s class…provide a “safe treat” for your child so that he/she can also participate.
  • Team up with the Room Mom or become the Room Mom so that you can help your child have safe classroom celebrations.
  • Eating out at restaurants can be risky! Always ask to speak to the manager before ordering to convey the life-threatening nature of your child’s food allergy. Ask about cross-contamination as well. Use restaurant cards to show the chef and wait staff. (Refer to the
  • “Resources” on our website.)