Peanut allergy is a common allergy among children. Approximately 0.6% of American children have a peanut allergy which means many parents need a strategy for safety while traveling with their allergic child.
From bag-checking charges and unexplained delays to rude fellow passengers and flight attendants who are having a bad day, flying can be a huge hassle. If you’re among the approximately 1 to 1.5 percent of Americans living with a peanut or tree nut allergy, boarding a commercial airplane can raise concerns that you might experience a rare in-flight reaction.
Coping with a peanut or tree nut allergy, however, doesn’t mean you – or your peanut- or tree nut-allergic child – have to forego the convenience of air travel. You can take steps to minimize your risk of having an allergic reaction while flying – and at least one study indicates that being proactive can make a positive difference in your travel experience.
The international study, published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology-In Practice, found that peanut and nut-allergic travelers who took certain actions lessened their odds of a reported in-flight allergic reaction. The study’s lead author, allergist and pediatrician Dr. Matthew Greenhawt of the University of Michigan’s Food Allergy Center and C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital, is also a medical advisor to Kids With Food Allergies, a division of the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America.
Peanut and tree nut allergic travelers can take steps to minimize the risk of a rare reaction while flying. Some of these steps include:
• When you get to your seat, use an antibacterial wipe to clean all surfaces you may touch, including the seat, arms and the tray table in front of you. This was another helpful action noted in the study. Some families also bring a sheet or blanket for a peanut- or tree-nut allergic child to sit on so he or she doesn’t come in contact with any allergens that prior passengers may have left behind.
• Don’t use airline pillows or blankets. This was yet another risk-reducing measure that the study noted which helped travelers reduce their risks of having an allergic reaction while flying. If you need these items for your flight, bring your own, so you can be sure to avoid allergens that may linger on airline-provided products.
For more tips for traveling with food allergies, visit www.kidswithfoodallergies.org or www.aafa.org.