How to help children with food allergies during Halloween



PITTSBURGH - Halloween can be a scary time for 3 million children with food allergies.

The Pingree family in Beaver County came up with a game plan so their son Lucas doesn't have a frightening experience.

Lucas has a peanut allergy.

"It felt very hard. At first I was nervous because I wouldn't know what I would be able to eat and not be able to eat," he said.

His mother remembers the day he ate what they thought was a harmless peanut butter cookie.

"He went into a full allergic reaction. He had swelling around the mouth, wheezing, itching and got rashes all over his torso," said Helena Pingree.

"Halloween can be a very dangerous time for anyone with food allergies, especially children," said Dr. Deborah Gentile at Allegheny General Hospital's Division of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology. "Many children might be allergic to milk, egg, wheat, soy and certainly peanut, and those can be allergens that are in Halloween candy."

With Gentile's help the Pingree family came up with a plan that still lets Lucas enjoy this holiday.

"He's allowed to trick or treat. He'll go with his friends and go around the neighborhood. He's not allowed to eat anything from his bag while he's trick or treating obviously," said his mother

But even with candies that don't have peanut butter listed as ingredient, Lucas still has to be careful.

"We have to go through everything, read the label, make sure we know where it was processed from, and then we decide whether or not he's allowed to have it," she said.

There are a number of web sites to help parents who have children with food allergies. They include:

Food Allergy

Snack Safely

Allergy Eats