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The Teal Pumpkin Project raises awareness of food allergies and promotes inclusion of all trick-or-treaters!

Fall is by far my favorite time of year- the cooler weather, beautiful leaves, football, colorful pumpkins- I love it all! 

Many kiddos I know love fall, too. My kids spend a month or more carefully considering the perfect Halloween costume and are giddy with anticipation of the buckets of candy they will receive while trick-or-treating. 

But for many families who have children with food allergies (myself and my husband included), Halloween is a particularly stress-inducing event. 

Spooky facts: 1 in 13 children has a food allergy, and according to Food Allergy Research and Education, "every 3 minutes a food allergy reaction sends someone to the emergency room." Combined with the knowledge that Halloween candy frequently contains or is cross-contaminated with 5 of the top 9 food allergens (milk, egg, peanuts, tree nuts, soy), one can begin to understand that many folks may be walking balls of anxiety while trick-or-treating. 

The Teal Pumpkin Project was created to help alleviate some of this burden. Placing a teal pumpkin on your doorstep signals to allergic trick-or-treaters that you offer non-food treats in a separate bowl. Some fun options that we offer are stickers, pencils, erasers, silly glasses, bouncy balls, etc. Personally, I am relieved when my kids walk up to a house displaying a teal pumpkin. 

My husband and I know that our allergic son feels safe and that the more houses that participate in the Teal Pumpkin Project, the less likely it is that we will have to reach for and administer the epinephrine auto-injectors that we are both armed with in our back pockets. If you are a parent of a food allergic child, there are a few things that you can do to help ensure a safe and enjoyable Halloween.

Encourage your child to select non-food treats if offered. Wait until you get home to eat any treats. Read labels and avoid candy that contains or is cross-contaminated with your child's allergens. Do not assume that items that have been safe in the past are safe now as ingredients can change. 

Consider swapping or trading a non-food treat or toy with your child for candy that contains offending allergens. Always carry an up-to-date epinephrine device to be used in the event of a severe or life-threatening reaction. Finally, if you are concerned your child has a food allergy contact a local board-certified allergist for further evaluation and management. At Carolina Asthma and Allergy Center, we offer allergy care by 16 board-certified allergists at 14 locations throughout Charlotte and surrounding areas. 

For more information on the Teal Pumpkin Project, visit 

S. Nicole Chadha, MD 

Board Certified Allergist and Food Allergy Mom 

S. Nicole Chadha, MD | Carolina Asthma & Allergy

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Tuesday, 30 November 2021

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