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Let's talk about allergies

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The Truth About Allergies 

Half of children and under 18s are living with one or more  allergy. This  includes food, non-food and airborne allergies. Due to the dramatic increase in allergies, they are now classed as an epidemic. Allergies are one of the most serious difficulties that children and young people under 18 face today.


Many children live with the fear of anaphylaxis and hospital admissions, on a daily basis. Lots of children and young people live with the fear of eating out, socialising and trying new foods or eating existing foods with updated recipes and ingredients lists. Stigmatisation is also something that young people have to deal with on a regular basis. 



Paediatric allergies under the microscope

Eight per cent of children under the age of 18 have food allergies. This number may rise in the coming years.


Cow's milk is the most common food allergy in children. Anaphylaxis caused by milk allergy, is most common in children under the age of 10.  Cow’s milk allergy in the UK is known to be the highest in Europe, with approximately half of those children suffering from eczema and gastrointestinal symptoms. 


Children with atopic eczema are at an even higher risk of developing food allergies, in particular to milk and peanuts.


Peanuts, tree nuts, eggs, fish, and shellfish are also common allergies in the paediatric population. 


Almost 1 in 5 children develop a peanut allergy by 5 years of age. 

Peanut allergies have doubled in the last 10 years.


 According to NHS data and statistics, 28,177 people in England were hospitalised during 2017 and 2018 due to an allergy related medical complaint. Of these, 3,817 were children under 18.


For more allergy statistics, research and further information, please visit the following sites:


Allergy UK

Anaphylaxis Campaign 

BSACI

NHS

NARF



Allergies are not just medical conditions that affect children physically. They can affect every aspect of a child's life. That's why it is so important that allergies in children are looked at holistically, so that all allergic children's unique needs can be met.


There are many ways in which you can support your child to make allergy living easier for you and your family. Here are a few ideas:


  • Encourage your child to talk about how they are feeling. It is important to talk about the things that make your child happy and the things they are struggling with. All feelings are important to share. This is how we celebrate the good things and work through the challenging things.
  • Have family time once a week. Each week, you can include cooking sessions, movie nights, bowling days, etc. The possibilities are endless. Doing this regularly will help your child's mental wellness and will make them feel happier.
  • Talk about your child's allergies with them and find creative ways to help them understand allergy safety: what their allergen(s) looks like; what type of food it is in; how to read food labels carefully and what medication needs to be taken daily and in the event of a severe allergic reaction or anaphylaxis. Adrenaline auto-injector pens are used for severe allergic reactions and anaphylaxis. Remember that if your child has been prescribed with adrenadline auto-injector pen, you must carry two pens with you at all times. This is the guidance that health professionals will give you as well.
  • Stay positive and together you can achieve many things, overcome obstacles and cope from day to day. Your child will have good days and bad days. But with support from the family, they will be able to work through any issues that arise and maintain a positive mental attitude.