The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

World, nation, state

October 22, 2013

Parents using tattoos as allergy advisories for kids

For the parents of a young child with food allergies, an autumn church festival can be something of a land mine.

Baked goods, ice cream and other foods with unknown ingredients — they all pose a danger to a youngster who is still learning what he can and can’t eat safely because of such allergies.

Which is why Cindy Gordon has become increasingly proactive.

Before leaving her Plain City home for the recent church outing, she applied temporary tattoos to the arms of sons Carson, 6, and Benjamin, 3.

One circular tattoo alerted potential food providers to the boys’ nut allergies; the other cautioned more generally of an “Allergy Alert.” (Benjamin is also allergic to dairy and is gluten-intolerant; Carson also has a dairy intolerance.)

“They both are anaphylactic to peanuts and almonds, which means it could be a deadly situation for them,” Mrs. Gordon said. “I wanted to make sure that if we got separated from them, they’d be safe.”

The latest trend in allergy-alert products allows children to make allergies known in a fun, visual way at an age when they might not be able to voice the dangers themselves.

Dr. David Stukus had seen young patients wearing alert bracelets or T-shirts but, during the summer, he began receiving inquiries about tattoos after articles about them appeared in USA Today and on the lifestyles website Yahoo Shine.

The topic pervaded social media, the allergist at Nationwide Children’s Hospital said, after a 13-year-old girl at a California summer camp died in late July of an allergic reaction to peanuts.

Every year in the United States, more than 200 children and adults die of food allergies, Stukus said. Almost 6 million children have a food allergy — “That’s two kids in every classroom,” he said — with milk, eggs and peanuts being the most common.

Reactions, ranging from hives to difficulty breathing, vary by individual and incident.

Tattoos, Stukus said, shouldn’t replace a parent-teacher action plan — both to prevent an allergic reaction and to clarify what should be done when a reaction occurs. Parents should begin teaching their child self-advocacy at a young age, he added.

Gordon bought the tattoos ($8 for 25) online from Peanut Free Zone, based in Canton.

Similar tattoos are sold by Safety Tat, started by Ohio State University graduate Michele Welsh, and other companies.

Gordon’s boys also wear an AllerBling bracelet with cute charms that detail their allergies, and they carry epinephrine auto-injectors in packs around their waists.

She uses the tattoos, she said, for field trips and gatherings.

“They’re a great visual for other adults to see.”

Stacey Stratton and her sister Denise designed the Peanut Free Zone tattoos to make them eye-catching.

“We use bright colors — yellows and reds — and there is no other fluff,” said Stratton, a former special-education teacher.

The two women started the company in 2010, because Denise Stratton’s sons have peanut allergies. The sisters also sell allergy-alert postcards, stickers and bracelets.

Some people warn, however, that the tattoos can give parents a false sense of security and that they can rub off.

“Parents might think, ’Oh, I have this on my child, so I don’t have to say anything,” said Amy Behnen, owner of Nut Free Sweets in New Albany, whose 6-year-old son, Landon, is allergic to peanuts, tree nuts, coconut and wheat.

Her son also has eczema, which is irritated by temporary tattoos.

Lewis Center mom April Booth found the tattoo idea intriguing but hasn’t applied the tattoos on 5-year-old son Mitchell. Instead, she hooks homemade tags alerting people of his multiple food allergies on his book bag, lunch pack or belt loop.

“I’d love to be able to put (a tattoo) on when he goes to school or when we go out and about,” said Booth, noting how children feel safe accepting food from adults, who might not be aware of any allergies. Her son is allergic to nuts, sunflower and sesame seeds, pineapple, watermelon and broccoli.

Stukus said some experts worry about kids being bullied further (almost a third of children with food allergies are bullied, he said) with such a visible exclamation of their allergy.

“But the more awareness, the better,” he said. “With a food allergy, there is no threshold — no safe amount.”

In the Gordon household, the tattoos also bring a bit of positivity to an experience that can be negative: Having to tell a child he can’t have a cupcake at a birthday party is difficult, she said.

“The tattoos are a neat thing.”

1
Text Only
World, nation, state
  • Screen Shot 2014-04-16 at 12.51.22 PM.png VIDEO: Toddler climbs into vending machine

    A child is safe after climbing into and getting stuck inside a claw crane machine at a Lincoln, Neb., bowling alley Monday.

    April 16, 2014 1 Photo

  • Poll finds Clinton trouncing entire GOP field

    Hillary Clinton isn’t only the strong front-runner for the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination, but she’s well ahead of every potential Republican rival, according to a new McClatchy-Marist Poll.
     

    April 16, 2014

  • Ukraine bares teeth against eastern uprising

    In the first Ukrainian military action against a pro-Russian uprising in the east, government forces repelled an attack Tuesday by about 30 gunmen at an airport, beginning what the president called an “anti-terrorist operation” to try to restore authority over the restive region.
     

    April 16, 2014

  • U.N. Security Council sees grim images of Syrian dead

    The U.N. Security Council fell silent Tuesday after ambassadors viewed a series of ghastly photographs of dead Syrian civil war victims, France’s ambassador said. The pictures showed people who were emaciated, with their bones protruding, and some bearing the marks of strangulation and repeated beatings, and eyes having been gouged out.

    April 16, 2014

  • U.S.: Russia causing Ukraine unrest

    The White House on Monday said there was “overwhelming evidence” that Russia is fomenting unrest in eastern Ukraine, but suggested that President Barack Obama has not yet concluded that Vladimir Putin’s actions warrant broader sanctions on key Russian economic sectors.

    April 15, 2014

  • Woman arrested after dead babies found

    A Utah woman accused of killing seven babies she gave birth to over 10 years was arrested Sunday after police discovered the tiny bodies stuffed in separate cardboard boxes in the garage of her former home.

    April 14, 2014

  • Rome man killed in crash

    The Ohio State Highway Patrol Chardon Post is investigating a fatal crash that took place just after midnight Sunday.

    April 14, 2014

  • 3 dead in shootings at Kansas facilities

    Three people died Sunday when a gunman opened fire outside the Jewish Community Center and a senior living facility in Johnson County, Kan.

    April 14, 2014

  • High fees eroding many 401(k) accounts

    It’s the silent enemy in our retirement accounts: High fees.
    And now a new study finds that the typical 401(k) fees — adding up to a modest-sounding 1 percent a year — would erase $70,000 from an average worker’s account over a four-decade career compared with lower-cost options. To compensate for the higher fees, someone would have to work an extra three years before retiring.

    April 14, 2014

  • Abortion in cases of rape: New rifts in old debate

    Poll after poll over many years has shown that Americans overwhelmingly support legal access to abortion for women impregnated by rape. Yet the issue remains divisive, as demonstrated by two current rifts — one involving U.S. aid policy overseas, the other highlighting strategy differences within the U.S. anti-abortion movement.

    April 13, 2014

House Ads
Parade
Magazine

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.
AP Video