The Risk Kids Take With Severe Food Allergies

By KBJR News 1

August 10, 2010 Updated Aug 11, 2010 at 9:57 AM CDT

Posted by Melissa Burlaga

Kids and food allergies are a serious combination.

New research from pediatric allergist researchers at children's hospital in Boston are suggesting that kids carry two doses of the widely prescribed Epipen - which treats allergic reactions; because we don't always know which child will need more than one life-saving injection.

Yet research also tells us that more than half of teens with severe food allergies take risks that could have deadly results.

Barbara Reyelts has more in this week's Connect with kids.

Sarah holding up a bag of Trail Mix: "These are off limits: I'm not allowed to have this. Ever."

Sarah is allergic to nuts, seafood and vegetable oil.

If she eats even a trace she could get very sick.

"If I have really high exposure to it, I'll tense up like my lungs will get really tight, and my throat will get really tight like I'm about to have an asthma attack."

"There have been times when literally from head to toe, Sarah has been covered with eczema and almost a blistering type of eczema."

So at school, in restaurants, or even on dates- Sarah must follow strict rules.

"Well my ex-boyfriend, when we were dating, whenever he had shrimp or anything like that, I'd be like, 'Well, you know you can't kiss me for the rest of the evening because you've had that."

But research shows often teens with food allergies gamble with their lives.

54% of teens in the study ate food without checking the ingredients.

"It's hard, especially because we don't like having to think about things ahead of time, and having to prepare food. It is really easy to just go to McDonald's and pick up a French fry when you are hungry."

Researchers have found that 12 percent of kids needed two doses, and recommend that kids carry more than one injection for emergencies.

But almost 40 percent of teens did not always carry injections that could save their lives.

"Teenagers are into convenience, and it's not convenient to follow the rules. Sometimes it's not convenient to carry your self-injectable epinephrine or rescue device if you were to have a reaction."

Experts say it helps to educate friends about the allergy.

"Having your friends as part of your team is like having an extra set of eyes, an extra set of hands, somebody to help you when you are going out to eat to read labels."

Experts say it's a good idea to teach friends how to administer life-saving medication, in case of a severe food reaction.