One in Three Children Experience Anaphylaxis on Valentine's Day

Mylan Specialty, makers of Epi-Pen, released a new survey on January 31, 2013 that found “…of the 302 U.S. adults, age 18+, who self-identified as caregivers of at least one child with a life-threatening allergy to food and/or latex…one in three reported that their children with life-threatening allergies have experienced anaphylaxis on Valentine’s Day.” [Disclosure: I have a relationship with Mylan Specialty.]

More from the press release: “The survey, which was conducted by Harris Interactive and commissioned by Mylan Specialty, revealed that teens that date were significantly more likely to have experienced anaphylaxis during Valentine’s Day than those who do not date (47% versus 13%) and:

  • Less than half of parents (47%) talk to their child about risks posed to children with life-threatening allergies from physical contact related to Valentine’s Day, such as being kissed by someone who has recently eaten food they may be allergic to.
  • Only 47% of parents tell their teen that when going on dates, they should tell their date about their life-threatening food allergy.
  • 35% of parents did not indicate that they remind their teen to bring his/her epinephrine auto-injector on dates"
As this study illustrates, having a conversation about “romance” and food allergies is not an easy one, especially with teens who may have their iPod headphones in their ears every time you try to with them.  My advice to parents from the press release: 

“As children mature, parents’ conversations should evolve with their needs and age-specific concerns. Food allergy talks need to reflect what is happening in their children’s lives and the real-life challenges they face on a daily basis.”

What that means is that conversation about anaphylaxis, emergencies, Epi-Pens, food allergies are ever changing as your child changes.  Once your child receives a diagnosis of life-threatening food allergies, that is the beginning of an ongoing conversation about how to manage that diagnosis. Receiving an anaphylaxis action plan from your board certified allergist is not a final step – it is the beginning of exploring what allergens to avoid and how, what symptoms to watch out for, what emergency means, what anaphylaxis looks like and what to do in case of that emergency.

I know it’s scary to start having these conversations with your children, especially ones about dates and Valentine's Day, but they want to hear from you, even your teenagers, they’re looking to you for guidance (and they're listening to you even when their headphones are in).


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