Halloween Is Here: Does Your Child Have a Food Allergy?

With Halloween just hours away, Kansas City kids are gearing up to go out trick-or-treating. Last minute costume preparations or purchases are in order, along with procuring the candies you’ll pass out on the holiday.

However, for some children, Halloween treats have tricks in store that parents may not have anticipated. Parents, if you don’t know whether your child has a food allergy, you could be inadvertently putting them at risk when you let them bite into that candy bar.

Test Smartly Labs of Overland Park is sharing the relevant food allergies parents should be aware about around Halloween.

Food Allergies to Watch for This Halloween

Gluten Allergy & Celiac Disease

Gluten allergy, sometimes referred to as a wheat allergy, occurs when your body reacts adversely to gluten, a mix of proteins found in grains like wheat, rye, barley, and triticale. Essentially, gluten helps foods retain their shape, performing as a glue of sorts.

Celiac Disease

Celiac disease is technically not a gluten allergy, but an autoimmune disorder which occurs when the immune system attacks the small intestine due to gluten consumption, effectively preventing the body from properly absorbing nutrients. Celiac disease can cause wide-ranging symptoms, including diarrhea, stomach pain, bloating, fatigue, rashes, and joint pain. In America, 1 in 133 people suffer from Celiac disease.

Gluten Allergy (aka Wheat Allergy)Halloween Is Here: Does Your Child Have a Food Allergy?

A wheat allergy or gluten allergy is not as severe as Celiac disease — it usually won’t cause lasting damage to the intestines, as Celiac doses — but it’s still a serious medical condition, as ingestion of gluten can cause rashes, swelling, difficulty breathing, and loss of consciousness. In some cases, a wheat allergy can prove fatal.

Candy Containing Gluten

You might not expect Halloween candy to trigger a gluten allergy, but any parent of a child with Celiac disease can tell you that many sweet treats do include grains or could be tainted by gluten by cross-contamination, such as Twizzlers, Twix, Kit Kats, Milky Way (original flavors), Mr. Goodbar, Pretzel M & Ms, Whoppers, and Crunch Bars.

Peanut & Tree Nut Allergies

Another food allergy parents should watch for this Halloween? A tree nut or peanut allergy. These food allergies occur when your immune system thinks peanut or tree nut proteins are harmful, so any direct or indirect contact with the foods triggers the release of chemicals that cause certain uncomfortable symptoms, including skin issues like swelling, hives, and itching in the throat or mouth; digestive issues like diarrhea, vomiting, nausea, or stomach cramping; and respiratory problems like wheezing, shortness of breath, or in extreme cases, anaphylaxis, the tightening of airways that makes it hard to breath. This can cause loss of consciousness and even death.

Peanut and tree nut allergies aren’t only triggered by eating foods containing nuts, either — sometimes, just touching nuts, inhaling aerosols or dusts containing nuts (like peanut flour or peanut oil spray), or handling food that was processed around nuts can cause an allergic reaction.

How Common is a Peanut Allergy or Tree Nut Allergy?

According to a study in the Journal of Allergy & Clinical Immunology1.4% of kids have a peanut allergy and 1.1% have a tree nut allergy. In many cases, these allergies go hand-in-hand; as Food Allergy Research & Education (FARE) reports, 25-50% of people with a peanut allergy also have a tree nut allergy. Each food allergy is on the rise, with the peanut allergy rate more than tripling from 1997 to 2008.

Candies to Avoid for a Tree Nut or Peanut Allergy

There are many candies that are bad for children with a tree nut allergy or peanut allergy, including Snickers, Almond Joy, Reese’s, Peanut M&Ms, and Mr. Goodbar are all popular Halloween candies that directly contain nuts. Many other chocolates, including 3 Muskateers, Butterfingers, and Milky Ways, are processed with candies that contain nuts, and therefore pose a risk of cross-contamination. Be sure to carefully read all candy labels to ensure that treats are safe for consumption if you or your child has a tree nut or peanut allergy.

See if Your Child Has a Food Allergy Today!

FARE reports that 8% of children have a food allergy, and young children are at the highest risk. Worst of all, some food allergies don’t have symptoms, or have symptoms that are easily mistaken for other medical conditions, meaning continued consumption of the substance causing the food allergy can occur and cause lasting damage.

Test Smartly Labs of Overland Park offers food allergy testing to give parents peace of mind and discover potentially dangerous food allergies, including peanut allergy, tree nut allergy, gluten allergy, cocoa allergy, cane sugar allergy, food additive allergy, and more! Quick, painless allergy testing can check for over 200 food allergies — and our modern allergy testing involves a simple blood draw, not the painful grid and prick allergy tests of days past.

To get started, call Test Smartly Labs of Overland Park today at (913) 815-0988.

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