Wednesday 25 January 2017

Halloween is truly scary if a child has a nut allergy

Never mind the spooky costumes. Accepting treats from strangers is a real fright for some children

Victoria Mary Clarke

Published 23/10/2016 | 02:30

Hidden dangers: A simple monkey nut could prove deadly to a child with an allergy Photo: Depositphotos
Hidden dangers: A simple monkey nut could prove deadly to a child with an allergy Photo: Depositphotos

It is almost Halloween, traditionally the season of scary costumes, of apple bobbing and cracking nuts by the fire, and, if you are young, it is the season of trick or treating, which means roaming the streets in the dark en masse, collecting sweets from strangers and stuffing your face with them, often without your parents seeing exactly what you are eating.

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Watching the cute squirrels in the park stuffing their little faces with nuts and scrambling up the trees, you could assume that nature intended us to binge on nuts in the autumn. But for the growing number of nut allergy parents, this season is a seriously scary time. Every three minutes, someone is hospitalised in America because of a food allergy, and the numbers are increasing all over the developed world.

More than 17 million Europeans have a food allergy, and hospital admissions for severe reactions in children have risen seven-fold over the past decade, according to the European Academy of Allergy and Clinical Immunology. In Ireland, it is estimated that 5pc of children are affected by a food allergy, the most common being nuts, as well as milk, eggs and fish.

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