Halloween is a favorite holiday for kids in Lawrence (and, let’s face it, many adults, too!), but not everybody can enjoy trick-or-treating. Food allergies prevent children in Kansas from enjoying all those Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups and Snickers bars. If you’d like to ensure your neighborhood witches and superheroes are included, consider placing a teal pumpkin on your front porch this Halloween.
Food Allergy Prevalence Among Children
How many children in Lawrence have food allergies?
It’s estimated that between five and ten percent of children in Lawrence and across the country have a diagnosed food allergy, and up to one-third of all kids in Kansas have experienced an adverse food reaction at least once in their lives. This makes holidays such as Halloween a bit harder to enjoy.
What are the most common food allergies?
The most common food allergies are peanuts and milk. Guess which ingredients are common in chocolate bars? Other foods that often cause allergic reactions include eggs, fish, shellfish, soy, tree nuts and wheat…so if you’re thinking about passing out cans of sardines instead this year, you’d better go back to the drawing board.
What are the side effects of allergies?
Some children are fortunate and outgrow their food allergies, but many others must ensure they avoid certain foods their whole lives. Failure to do so can result in severe adverse reactions that include breathing trouble, coughing, wheezing, hoarseness and throat tightness.
The most serious possible side effect is anaphylaxis, a potentially fatal allergic reaction that causes a sudden drop in blood pressure; constricted airways that impede breathing; a rapid, weak pulse; rash and skin discoloration; nausea and vomiting. At-risk children must carry around an Epi pen; without an immediate injection, they could otherwise slip into a coma or die.
The Color Teal Comes to the Rescue
In 2012, a woman in Tennessee wanted to ensure that children with food allergies were able to enjoy Halloween as much as their peers, so she created the Teal Pumpkin Project and began handing out non-food items during Halloween. A couple of years later, a non-profit advocacy group called FARE (Food Allergy Research & Education) posted a Facebook video about the project that went viral. Nowadays, the Teal Pumpkin Project is an annual tradition for many families in Lawrence.
If you’d like to participate in the Teal Pumpkin Project, there are plenty of resources available.
All you need to do is place a teal-colored pumpkin on your doorstep to let children and parents know you are passing out non-food items to costumed trick-or-treaters.
You can still hand out candy too, of course, but be sure to include options such as glow sticks, stickers, bubbles and bouncy balls for those kids with food allergies.
Need help finding teal pumpkins and other decor? FARE has created an extensive lineup of Teal Pumpkin Project merchandise that you can find on the shelves of large retailers in Kansas; participants include Michael’s, Party City and CVS. You’ll find everything from foam teal pumpkins to painting kits.
Learn more about the teal pumpkin project
Learn more about Allergies:
- Kansas Allergies are Prevalent in Fall, Too
- The Truth About Sneezing
- 10 Natural Sore Throat Remedies
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