Parentelligence Blog

Food allergies and emergency epinephrine in Washington State schools

Kevin Dooms, MD

Kevin Dooms, MD
Allergist/Immunologist

Food allergies have been on the rise in recent years.  Studies suggest that up to 1 in 13 children are affected by a food allergy.  Egg and cow’s milk are the most common food allergies for infants and toddlers.  Fortunately, most children will lose a milk or egg allergy by the time they enter school.  Peanut and tree nut allergies are also becoming more common.  Unfortunately, only 10-20% of children will ever outgrow a nut allergy.

Currently there is no cure for food allergies.  Instead, doctors rely on an accurate diagnosis, avoiding food triggers, and being prepared in the event of a severe reaction.  Making the situation more challenging, nearly half of children with a food allergy may be at risk for a potentially life-threatening reaction called anaphylaxis. 

Symptoms of anaphylaxis may include:

  • hives or itchy welts
  • swelling
  • vomiting or diarrhea
  • difficulty breathing (cough, wheeze or shortness of breath)
  • dizziness or passing out

During a severe food allergy reaction, epinephrine (“adrenaline”) can be a life-saving medication. Epinephrine is typically injected into a thigh muscle with an “auto-injector” device like EpiPen® or Auvi-Q™.  Oral antihistamines like Benadryl, Allegra, or Zyrtec can help with some anaphylaxis symptoms, but are not considered life-saving treatment.

Emergency Epinephrine in Schools

Until recently, only certain students in Washington State could receive a life-saving epinephrine injection while at school.  They needed to be diagnosed with a food allergy and already have an epinephrine injector in the health room.  However, some students may not have an injector at school, or they have their first serious allergic reaction while at school.  In that case, the school could only call 911 and hope they arrived in time to save a life.

In January 2013...

Beware: Magnets May Be Hazardous To Health!

Uma Pisharody, MD, FAAP

Uma Pisharody, MD, FAAP
Pediatric Gastroenterologist

Magnets, a common household object with which we are all familiar, can be surprisingly dangerous, especially to children.  If this statement is startling to you, here’s what you need to know. 

Beginning in the 1970s and 80s, scientists discovered a new type of magnet, the so-called “rare-earth magnet”.  Made from some of the “rare earth” metals of the periodic table such as “Neodymium”, these new magnets are not only the strongest, most powerful magnets known to man (magnetic forces up to ten times that of other magnets), they are also permanent and relatively inexpensive to manufacture.  These properties revolutionized the production of many household products, even toys.  Basically, magnets we find in everyday items today are no longer made using old-fashioned magnets from a generation ago!

As a pediatric gastroenterologist, I am writing this blog to warn you of the dangers, should these powerful magnets be accidentally swallowed.  If more than one magnet is swallowed, or if a magnet is ingested along with another metallic object, the formidable strength of these magnets can attract 2 pieces of bowel to stick together with such great strength, it results in serious injury, even death.

This video ...

Kids with kidney disease and cold and flu season

Marie Valdez, RN

Marie Valdez, RN
Clinic Registered Nurse; Swedish Pediatric Specialty Care Nephrology/Urology

With the summer winding down, the dreaded cold and flu season is just around the corner.  Parents with children who have a history of kidney disease need to keep in mind a few things during this season of stuffy noses and coughs.

  • Avoid NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) like ibuprofen, Motrin, Advil, naproxen, and Aleve.
    • NSAIDs are known to decrease blood flow to the kidneys and can cause more damage.
  • Avoid Pseudoephedrine or any medications that may contain similar ingredients.
    • Pseudoephedrine is usually an ingredient for decongestants like Sudafed and is known to increase blood pressure.
  • Say YES to the flu shot early.
    • Children with kidney disease ....

Handling stress with kids in the hospital

Jennifer Casperson RN, MSN, CPN

As the back to school sales begin, we are reminded that soon our kids will be back on the bus and returning to school routines.  As adults we may look forward to the return of a consistent routine or dread the increased activity that comes with sports, homework and friends.  For our children school can be both exciting and anxiety producing as well.

Stress can be a contributor to many illnesses and is something that we all can use help managing. (Want to find out how much you know about stress and your kids? Take this 5 question quiz here.) The questions bring up some great ways to manage stress daily for our kids; but what about the stresses of chronic illness or hospitalization?  What can you do for your child to decrease their anxiety in the hospital?

Advocating for Children with Severe Food Allergies

Uma Pisharody, MD, FAAP

Uma Pisharody, MD, FAAP
Pediatric Gastroenterologist

Eosinophilic Gastrointestinal Disorders (“EGIDs”) are a severe form of gastrointestinal inflammation that results from food allergy.  Children and adults in the U.S. are increasingly being diagnosed with this condition that unfortunately requires strict elimination diets, and many times, a life-long inability to eat foods that most of us take for granted each day, including dairy, wheat, soy, and eggs. 

For children requiring such restrictive diets, pediatric gastroenterologists like me work hard to find adequate alternate sources of nutrition.  For my patients with EGIDs, I often prescribe special “elemental formulas” as a treatment to both heal the intestinal inflammation and prevent further harm.  These formulas are completely allergen-free while meeting 100% of a child’s nutritional needs. 

However, in the state of Washington, most ....

Worrying about your child's growth

Shirley Vacanti, RN, BSN

Shirley Vacanti, RN, BSN
Clinical RN, Pediatric Endocrinology; Swedish Pediatric Specialty Care

The above letters reflect many of our children’s feelings when they are first seen by Dr. Kletter. They and their families arrive to the Pediatric Endocrinology clinic with hope that something can be done.

Children are usually followed by their pediatrician or primary care provider. The following questions are guidelines for parents who are worried about their child’s growth. While any “yes” to the questions may not indicate a problem, it warrants a discussion with your child’s healthcare provider.

  • Is my child the shortest or tallest in the class?
  • Is my child unable to keep up with children of the same age in play?
  • Is my child growing less than 2 inches or more than 3 inches a year?
  • Is my child showing signs of early sexual development (before age 7 in girls and before age 9 in boys)?
  • Has my 13 year old girl or 15 year old boy failed to show signs of sexual development?

An experienced pediatric endocrinologist will evaluate the following possible causes of short stature and growth failure:

Three summer safety tips - sunscreen, heat exhaustion, water

Kimberlee I. Smith, MD

Kimberlee I. Smith, MD
Pediatric Hospitalist

Summer is in full force! With sunny weather, long days, and loads of activities it can be easy to forget the basics to keep you and your children safe this summer. Here are an additional 3 summer safety tips (see Dr. Lee’s blog for tips on helmets, open windows, and fires):

1. Sunscreen

All children of any age need sunscreen if they’re going outside in the summer, even if it’s for a short period of time on an overcast day. Sunscreen is the best way to prevent sunburns and future skin cancer. Babies under 6 months of age should be kept out of direct sunlight as their skin is thinner and more sensitive. Sunscreen should be greater than 30 SPF and applied 30 minutes prior to exposure. Be sure to read the label to ensure it protects against both UVA and UVB rays. Most products need to be reapplied at least every 3 hours or sooner if your child has been wet or in the water. A “waterproof” sunscreen should be reapplied every 30 minutes while your child is in the water.

2. Heat exhaustion

Heat reactions in children are caused by high temperatures and excess water loss. Here are a few things you should remember:

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Top Authors

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