How Can a Teal Pumpkin Save a Child’s Life?

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Most kids get crazy giddy about Halloween. They can’t wait to romp around the neighborhood with their candy stashes. But for children with food allergies and some other conditions, this holiday can represent hidden dangers – ingredients and additives that can have disastrous health effects.

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That’s where a teal pumpkin comes in.

People who want to offer non-food items for kids can place holiday squash of this unlikely hue on their porches, where it signals offerings of safe Halloween treats. With the pumpkin, a sign can help explain, such as: “Non-Food Treats Available Here.”

It’s part of what’s called the Teal Pumpkin Project ™, a national movement started by Food Allergy Research & Education (FARE)to offer children with food allergies or dietary restrictions some fun alternatives, such as stickers, small toys and erasers.

How to get involved

“Offering non-edible items and toys allows all kids to participate in Halloween without fear of getting sick or worse,” says pediatric allergist Brian Schroer, MD.

“It supports all children with food allergies or food restrictions, ranging from as kids with anaphylaxis to kids with ADHD or autism. They should enjoy the night and not feel different or fear having a reaction,” he adds.

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Last year, households from 50 states and seven countries participated in the project. If you want to be a part of it, make your pumpkin teal to place on your porch and make or download an explanatory sign from FARE to include with it.

Gift ideas for trick-or-treaters

Wondering what you could offer these trick-or-treaters? Here’s a list of ideas:

  • Kids’ jewelry: Glow sticks, bracelets, or necklaces
  • Art supplies: Halloween erasers, pencil toppers, pencils, pens, crayons, markers, mini notepads, stencils, stickers or bookmarks
  • Halloween toys: Spider rings or vampire fangs
  • Small toys: Finger puppets, bubbles, whistles, magic tricks, noisemakers, or bouncy balls
  • Games: Traditional playing cards or other games, such as Go Fish
  • Monetary gifts: Coins or gift certificates

Other ways to help

Whether you go teal or not, offering non-edible gifts can help children for various reasons. It’s a novelty when most families give out candy, and it is healthier for all.

It can also be safer than trying to offer trick-or-treaters separate bowls of candy containing common allergens, such as peanuts.

Unfortunately, even candy that doesn’t expressly contain an allergen could still create an allergic reaction if it’s processed in a facility that also processes the allergen, especially nuts. It all depends on how sensitive a child is to the food.

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Tips for parents

Experts say if your child has been prescribed a form of self-injectable epinephrine such as an EpiPen® or Auvi-Q® for food allergies, it’s especially important to have it with you while trick or treating.

“Having the epinephrine on-hand is critical. You never know when a child may eat something they are allergic to and you want to sure you can quickly respond if needed,” Dr. Schroer says.

If communities and families work together to protect children who have allergies or dietary concerns, everyone can enjoy the Halloween season.

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