A food allergic reaction that is! Apparently, in a recent press released provided by Mylan Speciality, the makers of Epi Pen®, one in three parents of children diagnosed with life threatening food allergies have experienced anaphylaxis on Valentine’s Day. Didn’t see that one coming. My local food allergy and asthma parent education group hosts an annual food free Halloween Party to address the dangers of Halloween, but I have to confess that Valentine’s Day never hit my radar. Mostly, since I don’t think I’ve missed a school Valentine’s Day party to date and that I simply LOVE anything Valentine’s Day related. Food allergens don’t stand a chance in my world, since I can’t ever seem to stop baking or making crafts on Valentine’s Day.
The Mylan’s Press Release, “Valentine’s Day Provides Families with Teachable Moments About Potentially Life Threatening Allergies”, brought about some good discussion in my household. An online survey of 302 parents revealed that only 47% spoke to their children regarding managing their life threatening food allergies on Valentine’s Day ( include me in that group). It’s seems that Mylan’s goal is to bring awareness and discussion to families and, most of all: to be prepared! This is a good thing! I truly don’t chat too much with my children regarding Valentine’s Day since I’m incredibly involved–which is a BIG mistake. What happens on the odd holiday that I’m sick, not there or, when my kids are too old to enjoy my presence at the party. For my family, every holiday brings along the same checklist of preparation:
- Confirm with teacher if there will be an in class or school wide celebration.
- If there will be a celebration, will it include food?
- If food is to be included, how will allergens be avoided?
- Will one of us (myself or my husband) be able to help out with the party? Since we able, I try to attend every party as a second set of eyes.
- How will my child participate?
- How can I help or assist the teacher to ensure a safe event.
- Confirm our family policy of not eating things cooked or baked outside of home unless we know the family and baker and have confirmed they understand our cross contact needs.
- Even if safe treats are provided, all labels must be double read.
- NEW ADDITION TO THE LIST: Discuss strategies with my children for food allergy safety!
I believe the dangers in Valentine’s Day are similar to Halloween: everyone is excited, candy is a huge part of our culture’s celebration of the day and it is easy to forget protocol plain and simple. One thing I do with my daughter is that I invite a few girls over for our own V-day party after school. So, my daughter holds off on any treats and then we enjoy Valentine Themed snacks and crafts that day. Also, I will make my Valentine’s day Robots again this year for her class! I blogged about it last year in my post, “Healthy Food Allergy Robots” .
Epi Family posted this darling blog providing ten adorable non-food related homemade Valentine’s Day Do-It-Yourself ideas: Allergy Free DIY Valentines. Another great idea is to create crafts or celebrate with games or song. As much as I am a foodie, I think at school we’ve moved the focus to heavily to food to celebrate. Cupcakes are no longer special. As a child, I used to live for a good bake sale. Now cupcakes are everyday fare.
I hope you take pause over the next week or so to discuss and strategize Valentine’s Day and life threatening food allergies.