Allergies: What to Look For & How to Act

According to Allergy & Anaphylaxis Australia, 1 in 10 children will experience some sort of food allergy. Many reactions in children are not severe or life-threatening, but sometimes the allergy is more serious, causing a reaction known as anaphylaxis. Common allergy triggers include cow’s milk, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, seafood, sesame, soy and wheat. While nut, seed and seafood allergies tend to be lifelong, it is possible for children to grow out of an allergy. Anaphylaxis, due to its severity, must be treated instantly as a medical emergency and the NSW Government has published its own guidelines for early learning centres and childcare services.

These government guidelines were developed to assist in the management of the health care needs of children in the service who have been identified by a medical practitioner as being at risk of anaphylaxis. They also give advice for the day-to-day management of the service to reduce the likelihood of exposure to relevant allergens. Childcare centres can use this advice to develop their policies and procedures for managing children’s medical conditions and allergies.

If your child has a food allergy, no matter the scale of its severity, I’m sure you will be concerned about entrusting your childcare centre to avoid the appropriate triggers and deal with any reactions, should they occur. But luckily there is very comprehensive advice and training now in place, and as long as they are regulated under the National Quality Standards your early learning centre will be well trained in the event of an emergency.

The Cherry Bridge Station Early Learning Centres employ experienced catering managers who hold qualifications in Nutrition, Menu Planning and Safe Food Handling. All allergies are regarded as a top priority and every member of staff is trained in Anaphylaxis. Special needs and dietary requirements are also carefully recorded and managed appropriately.

In addition to this, Cherry Bridge Station staff and educators will all know certain signs to look out for:

Signs of a mild to moderate allergic reaction to food can include swelling of the face, lips and eyes, hives or welts on the skin, tingling mouth, stomach pain and vomiting.
A severe allergic reaction is indicated by any one of the following symptoms: difficulty breathing, swelling of the tongue, swelling/tightness in throat, difficulty talking or hoarse voice, wheezing/coughing, pale and floppy (in young children), loss of consciousness or collapse.

Of course, you can help by ensuring that you provide as much information as possible when enrolling your child into a centre. Severe reactions are often more common in children who have a family history of allergies, and if you suspect that your little one may have a food allergy then have this tested and confirmed by a medical professional before enrollment into a childcare centre.

Anaphylaxis will always require an emergency response and it is important for the staff to know which children have an adrenaline autoinjector and where it is kept. If in doubt about the seriousness of a reaction, it is advised that an adrenaline autoinjector should be administered if available and an ambulance called immediately. Early recognition of anaphylaxis symptoms and immediate treatment could save a child’s life.

Until science can pinpoint definitive causes and cures, then the more we know and understand the risks associated with anaphylaxis, the safer our children will be.