CDC: Food allergies increasing in children - KAIT-Jonesboro, AR-News, weather, sports

CDC: Food allergies increasing in children

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JONESBORO, AR (KAIT)- Food allergies are  on the rise among children in the U.S. About 4-6% of children under 18 are now allergic to at least one food.

Max Lemmons is a senior at Nettleton High School and said he has had a food allergy since he was a little boy.

"I found out when I was a little kid," said Lemmons. "Well my mom actually found out because we were at my grandma's house and I picked up a peanut and ate it off the floor and had hives and stuff."

Max had a similar reaction around this time last year when he was out walking his dog. His eyes started to swell and he said he started having problems breathing.

"My parents took me to the hospital and my skin was stinging a little bit, it kind of freaked me out,"he said.

According to the Center for Disease Control, childhood allergies have increased 18 percent since 1993. Also, about 6 percent of U.S. kids are allergic to at least one food.

"Most students we come in contact with has the standard peanut allergy, shellfish, milk, eggs, and sometimes chocolate," said Nettleton nurse, Belinda Stillwell.

"When a student is admitted or enrolled into our district, they fill out a medical information sheet and the nurse looks at that sheet for any allergies or any medications the students may take," Stillwell said.

Nettleton High School has also made changes in their cafeteria. They don't serve any peanut products and they avoid cooking in peanut oil.

"I always have an epi-pen with me and usually I have to take Benadryl in case I have some type of reaction," Lemmons said.

"I usually keep my epi-pen in my backpack or in my car. My brother and a lot of my friends always know where it is so if I need that."

Max said although having a food allergy does not bother him, it can sometimes put a damper on his social life.

"Well I know I can't kiss a girl if she eats a peanut butter and jelly sandwich or something, I guess that could be a problem," he said. "But a little toothbrush and no problem."

New data suggest introducing peanuts and other allergenic foods to babies 4 and 6 months old to help reduce their risk for developing an allergy.

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