For parents of kids with food allergies, ghosts and goblins aren’t the only scary things at Halloween. Many Halloween treats – especially those made with chocolate – contain common allergens like peanuts, tree nuts, milk and eggs. And even small amounts of allergens can cause potentially life-threatening reactions. But having allergies doesn’t mean having to skip Halloween fun. Allergist Dr. Hemant Sharma shares some tips for managing food allergies at Halloween:

  1. Give out non-food treats. Kids love glow sticks, vampire fangs and stickers, and these non-food treats are a great way for kids to celebrate Halloween and not feel left out.
  2. Join the Teal Pumpkin Project. Since 2012, FARE’s Teal Pumpkin Project has been encouraging people to raise awareness of food allergies and promote inclusion of all trick-or-treaters during Halloween. To participate, just purchase some non-food treats, place a teal pumpkin in front of your home to indicate you have non-food treats available and add your home to the Teal Pumpkin Project map.
  3. Carry epinephrine autoinjectors. No matter how careful you are at avoiding allergy-causing treats, it’s always a good idea to carry epinephrine autoinjectors on Halloween night as a precaution.
  4. Wait until you get home to eat the candy. Once you’re at home, you can read the labels and make sure the ingredients are safe. If you think your kids will want to eat candy while they’re out trick-or-treating, bring your own allergen-free treats for them to snack on.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Hemant Sharma, MD, MHS, is the Clinical Chief of the Division of Allergy and Immunology at Children’s National. He is Director of the Food Allergy Program at Children’s National, as well as Site Director for the National Institutes of Health Allergy and Immunology Fellowship Program.

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