Food allergies in kids on the rise - KAIT-Jonesboro, AR-News, weather, sports

Food allergies in kids on the rise

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According to the CDC, the number of children with dangerous and potentially lethal food allergies has exploded. In fact, officials say it's going to get even more common.

Three-year old Kol may be able to put jam on his waffle, but it took his mom to make sure the waffle wasn't made with eggs or wheat flour - Kol's allergic to them.

Kol wasn't tested for food allergies until his parents discovered they can cause ear infections - something Kol just kept getting. It's because the inflammation and swelling from food allergies can mess up drainage in the inner ear. 

Food allergies are a big problem for kids nowadays - almost twice what earlier studies projected, and more common in preschoolers like Kol. Peanuts, milk and shellfish top the list of triggers. 

For parents, finding out your child has food allergies means the world you know must change. To start, parents of children with food allergies have to pay close attention to food labels.

Kol's mom Keren follows the expert's advice and scrutinizes everything that goes in her food pantry. She's also had to re-learn how to cook without the stuff that trigger Kol's allergies. 

But one of the biggest challenges facing parents of kids with food allergies is getting other caregivers to take their child's special needs seriously. Keren had to switch daycares because of it.

"Allergies is something that I feel they think is really just me being an overbearing mother. You just want to control what your child eats," says Keren.

The fact is, almost half the reactions in children with food allergies happened after they ate something given to them by someone other than their parents. 

Dad Kris says a lot of people just don't understand how serious food allergies can be.

"It's just tough to explain to people that it's not an insult. We're not trying to be elitist or anything, it's just - when he eats those foods he turns into a cranky mess," Kris notes.

Kol is luckier than some. His food allergies don't affect his airways, so he doesn't need an injectable EpiPen to keep him breathing if he has a bad reaction. That's not the case for 40 percent of children with a food allergy diagnosis.

For families like the Hendersons who do everything possible to help their kids avoid problem foods, the good news is the odds of their child ever having a severe allergic reaction drop dramatically.

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