Food Allergies: What Parents Should Know

Food Allergies According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), “Food allergies are a growing food safety and public health concern that affect an estimated 4%–6% of children in the United States.”

The most common foods known to cause allergies in children include eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, milk, soy, fish and shellfish.  If a child is severely allergic to any of these foods, they should avoid them at all costs.  Exposure or consumption can lead to a serious reaction known as anaphylaxis, which can result in death.

Symptoms of anaphylaxis usually occur within minutes and may include:

  • Difficulty breathing
  • Weak and rapid pulse
  • Throat tightening or the feeling of the throat closing
  • Low blood pressure
  • Dizziness or fainting
  • Swollen tongue
  • Nausea, vomiting or diarrhea

In the event a child is experiencing anaphylaxis, do not wait to see if symptoms will go away.  Treatment must be administered immediately.  If the child carries an epinephrine auto-injector (EpiPen), use this right away to begin emergency care.

Doctors strongly recommend that the Epipen is administered exactly as instructed. According to , when administering the medication to a young child, one should:

  • Remove the Auto-Injector from the clear carrier tube.
  • Flip open the yellow cap of your EpiPen® or the green cap of your EpiPen Jr® carrier tube.
  • Tip and slide the auto-injector out of the carrier tube.
  • Hold the auto-injector in your fist with the orange tip pointing downward. Blue to the sky, orange to the thigh®.
  • With your other hand, remove the blue safety release by pulling straight up without bending or twisting it.
  • Hold the leg firmly in place while administering an injection.
  • Place the orange tip against the middle of the outer thigh (upper leg) at a right angle (perpendicular) to the thigh.
  • Swing and push the auto-injector firmly until it “clicks.” The click signals that the injection has started.
  • Hold firmly in place for 3 seconds (count slowly 1, 2, 3).
  • Remove the auto-injector from the thigh. The orange tip will extend to cover the needle. If the needle is still visible, do not attempt to reuse it.
  • Massage the injection area for 10 seconds.

For complete instructions on how to properly use the Epipen, please visit or

If the child does not carry an EpiPen, and is experiencing symptoms of anaphylaxis, get emergency help immediately. Every second counts.

All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.