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Supporting Patients with Allergies: The Teal Pumpkin Project

Back to School, Football and Halloween – Fun and yet dangerous settings for kids with food allergies!

Why? Well, if you have a son or daughter as I do with food allergies, then you know that school lunches, football tailgates and Halloween parties all have snacks and treats that need to be carefully monitored. Often times these items are easy to identify, but other times even with an adult eye they can slip through in things that normally seem safe...and I'm not just talking about the usual suspects like cookies and brownies! An egg roll or turkey leg may look delicious, but do you know if it was fried in peanut oil? Allergens may be hidden where they're least expected, which is why public education, community support and medical advancements are all so important.

Parents, teachers, coaches, neighbors and friends really don’t mean harm, but they often do not understand that food allergies are real and can be deadly even in small amounts. Even food intolerances - often cited by skeptics or those who otherwise feel inconvenienced by allergy restrictions - should be met with deserved consideration to avoid deliberately causing physical pain or discomfort to a child. As a parent whose son has a deadly nut allergy, I am always terrified that his allergies will not be immediately recognized. As a result, the necessary medication may not be readily at hand to help him. No child should ever be in a situation where the adults around them are unprepared to respond effectively to an allergic reaction. Unfortunately this situation does happen and it repeats throughout their lives even with watchful care. The key to helping those with life-threatening food allergies is awareness and education.

The pharmaceutical industry is also doing a tremendous amount of research in finding a solution for not just treating life-threatening symptoms of an allergic attack, but to proactively prevent the reaction from occurring in the first place. Companies like Aimmune, Novartis, DBV Technologies and AnaptysBio all have therapies going through clinical trials with the FDA. Patients and parents have great hopes for a “cure” or treatment, but until then we all need to do more to help each other keep our loved ones safe and healthy. One new awareness campaign is the Teal Pumpkin Project. It is something simple that families can embrace and offer this Halloween season to help make “trick or treating” a fun and safe outing for all. See the 4 easy steps you can do now to make a difference. Thank you for taking action and sharing this information.

Have fun this fall…stay aware, and be safe!

For more information on the teal pumpkin project visit: https://www.foodallergy.org/education-awareness/teal-pumpkin-project

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