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Uptick in Childhood Food Allergies: A First-Aid Kit for ECE Programs
October 13, 2023
Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants. That, more or less, is the short answer to the supposedly incredibly complicated and confusing question of what we humans should eat in order to be maximally healthy.
-Michael Pollan, American professor, author of In Defense of Food (and others)
“There’s been an uptick in childhood food allergies in recent years, and new evidence from Northwestern shows they’re also becoming more common in adults.” So begins an article on the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine website. “Many of the reactions to these allergies are life-threatening. Why is this increase happening, and how can we keep people affected by food allergy safe? Ruchi Gupta, M.D., M.P.H., is trying to answer those questions.

There are many theories as to why food allergies are on the rise in both adults and children, but Gupta says there is no definitive answer: “Chances are there is not one factor ... it's going to be a group of factors and how our lifestyles have changed.”

The Exchange Essentials “Health and Safety First Aid Kit” provides a collection of articles that each address some of the most common issues facing programs for young children. Article titles include:

  • Supporting Children with Asthma and Allergies
  • Addressing Gluten Freedom in Early Childhood
  • Super Lice
  • Concussions in Young Children - What Early Educators Need to Know
  • And there are a number of others…

Pediatrician Elisa Padder offers advice on working with children’s families and health providers to develop care plans to deal with allergies and asthma. She also reminds adults to create a plan for safeguarding children’s emotions.

Padder urges that “along with prevention and proper medication management comes the emotional burden of living with a chronic medical condition such as food allergy and/or asthma. Be on the lookout for the emotional well-being of children with asthma and offer support. Even young children are sometimes teased or bullied by other kids for having a food allergy. ‘Peanut-free’ tables allow kids with peanut allergies to avoid an allergen, but when children are separated from other children, they quickly notice. How we talk about allergies and asthma can have a long-term impact on the social and emotional development of a child.”


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