Food allergies affect 1 in every 13 children under the age of 18*. According to a Center For Disease Control and Prevention Study in 2008, food allergies have increased 18% in the population from 1997 to 2007 but no determining factor has been found.*
As a dietitian, diabetes educator and a parent of an elementary school child, I know that education about food allergies and food sensitivities are important but for a parent of a child with allergies, it really can be a matter of life and death.
Every day activities like school lunches, birthday parties, camp, playdates and sleepover parties send children with allergies to the ER over 200,000 times per year*. Education is key but getting the child to be their own advocate may reduce parental fear and ultimately protect a child.
During my visit to the Natural Products Expo/Expo West last week, I came across a company that I knew that parents of children with allergies needed to know about, AllerMates. AllerMates are the modern child’s alternative to Medic Alert Bracelets – they make Allergy and Health Alert Wristbands, Dog Tags and Lunch and Snack Bags with eye-catching and clear messages that are easily understood by adults and that children will think are cool and will want to show off to others.
(Please excuse the poor quality of the photos).
I know that parents will appreciate that AllerMates makes over 25 Allergy and Health Alert charms and dog tags - that not only include the 8 allergens responsible for 90% of allergic reactions (Peanut, Tree Nut, Soy Nut, Shellfish, Fish, Egg, Dairy and Wheat)* but also include non-food allergies like Latex, Pollen, Insect Stings and alert to health choices like Vegan. I was especially impressed that that AllerMates went as far as to make cool EpiPen carrying cases, medicine bags and inhaler cases (in addition to wristbands and dog tags) for those kids with health conditions like Diabetes and Asthma.
Wild Boy doesn’t have allergies but he has plenty of friends with allergies. I know that when we moved from a peanut-free preschool to no-food restriction elementary school, I was thrilled because Wild Boy loves (or at least used to love) peanut butter. On the flip side, I’m sure that my child’s peanut butter sandwich is just the thing that makes the parents of a child with a peanut allergy shudder every day at lunch or snack time.
I was wildly impressed with AllerMates personally and professionally and I plan to introduce the products to friends who have children with allergies, to other dietitian colleagues and to the PTA President of my Wild Boy’s school. I believe that the kid-friendly designs of AllerMates will bring positive attention and spark conversation that might otherwise be uncomfortable for parents and/or children and might ultimately save a life.
Do you/or your child have allergies? What kind? What did/do you do to help educate others? I’d love to know.
I was issued a Press Pass to the Natural Products Expo/Expo West but not financially compensated by AllerMates to write this post. All opinions are my own.
*All statistics were from FARE (Food Allergy Research & Education)