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Food Allergy Fears – It’s Ok For Your Child To Try Something New

Cute little girl sitting in the mother lap and smearing peanut butter on bread.Do you remember the last time that your allergic child tried a new food? If the answer is no, you are not alone. It’s a difficult task for both parents and children with food allergies. There is always the thought of “What if” no matter what the new food is. Every new ingredient, every new spice, every new menu item that your child might want to try to have a larger variety of foods to choose from is seen as a possible threat. The fear is very real and very understandable so how does an allergic family get over this bump in the road?

Always have medications within reach

Even with my second child, I always made sure I had any necessary allergy medications for immediate use when we decided to try a new food. In the past, antihistamines were the first line of action but to date, research and countless food allergy tragedies have proven that this may actually not be the case. First and foremost, having the correct items will ensure that those seconds could be spared. The most typical items that should be on-hand are two doses of epinephrine, some form of antihistamine and an inhaler (if asthmatic or your child has a history of needing a rescue inhaler).

Small or not at all

Our family has made it a habit of trying a small amount of anything new rather than having it as an entire meal. This may seem a like we are being a bit over protective but it makes perfect sense. The smaller the amount of allergic food ingested, the easier it should (hopefully) be to get the reaction under control. If you are allergic to peanuts and wanted to try an almond, would you eat a piece of an almond or an entire loaf of almond bread? Everything in moderation.

Stay together

I have never, ever given my allergic child any new foods and then sent him away or to bed for the night. Ever. If an allergic reaction occurs, you want to be with your child to make sure you can treat them properly, to watch for the specific signs or symptoms that came from that food and you want to show your child that they are not alone in having to deal with food allergies. It’s a silent support system but if you have seen that very distinctive, frightened look in your child’s eyes as they begin to react, you know that the best thing to do would be there with them from start to finish as much as possible.

No Mixing

This is very important! For the sake of your child and to avoid additional food allergy tests, always test out one new food item and no other new foods with that food item for at least three to five days. Will it take a longer time? Yes but you also want to make sure that the sandwich that your child took a bite from doesn’t contain so many possible allergic foods that you will be deeming a handful of foods as unsafe when really, most of them could have been eaten. Trying new foods is to expand your allergic child’s food options, not to limit them further.

Check your phone

Have a telephone ready and waiting. This means having it in your hand, in your pocket, on the table or somewhere that you can use it right away if you need too. Also, make sure it’s fully charged if it’s not a landline. Update your telephone list with current physician information and even print out a list of emergency contacts to have a fast and easy place to access. When an emergency happens you may not have time to think or react so the more you plan to be prepared, the faster you can deal with the situation as needed.

Support your child’s fears either way

As a parent, it is always difficult to know what the best thing to do is, especially when it’s dealing with food allergy concerns. You may feel that if you don’t encourage your child to try new foods that it makes you too laid back. Or, if you insist that your child try a food and they have a reaction, they will remember that event as a negative part of your parenting. Be open and discuss your own fears with your child- let them know that you are fearful to, that there is no way of telling what could happen and that the most important thing for them to know is that you are there with them.

When in doubt, step out

Many food allergy families prefer to do any and all food testing in their physician’s offices. Although this is recommended with most people, this is a personal decision within each family. Only your family can decide if you feel comfortable enough to test out new foods at home rather than under a physician’s watch. Consider all aspects, analyze any previous allergic reactions and make sure you ask your child what he or she also feels most comfortable doing.

New foods may always cause fear but so can many other things in life. Give your child the opportunity to know how many different foods are out in the world and how many they may have never tried had it not been for their food allergies. Teach them that their fears should be about what they don’t know what to expect, not from what they do know. Conquer your foods, conquer your fears but never let either be a part of what stops you from continuing.

Finally – A Step Towards Safe Transport for Kids in Ambulances!

In 2008 the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) convened a working group of representatives from the American Academy of Pediatrics, Emergency Medical Services for Children, the American Ambulance Association, and other key organizations and started a project called “Solutions to Safely Transport Children in Emergency Vehicles”. Finally a long-standing problem was being recognized and addressed: “there are no Federal standards or standard protocols among EMS and child safety professionals in the U.S. for how best to transport children safely in ground ambulances from the scene of a traffic crash or a medical emergency to a hospital or other facility. The absence of consistent national standards and protocols … complicates the work of EMS professionals and may result in the improper and unsafe restraint of highly vulnerable child passengers.”(1)

In fact a 1998 study regarding the use of child restraints in ambulances revealed that 35 States did not require patients of ANY AGE to be restrained in a ground ambulance. Of those States that did require some sort of child restraint system, requirements for an “acceptable restraint” varied significantly.(2)

It is illegal in the US to travel with an unrestrained child in an automobile. However, when a child is already sick or injured, we have been willing to transport them in a vehicle where the passenger compartment is exempt from most safety requirements, they cannot be properly restrained and they have a higher probability of an accident than an automobile. We might not if we knew the following:

  • It is estimated that up to 1,000 ambulance crashes involve pediatric patients each year.(3)
  • In a collision at 35mph, an unrestrained 15kg child is exposed to the same forces as in falling from a 4th story window.(4)

Wednesday September 19, 2012, after an intense 2 year research effort, a public meeting in August 2010 to review the findings and gather input (see Pediatric Safety Post by Sandy Schnee “A Public Meeting on Safe Transport for Kids on Ambulances“), and 2 additional years refining the results, NHTSA has released the official:


The working group outlined 5 potential child transport “Situations” (see chart below) and for each described their “Ideal” solution – the best practice recommendation for safe a safe transport for each situation. They also presented an “If the Ideal is not Practical or Achievable” alternative – basically an “acceptable” backup plan.

They also came up with guidelines to assist EMS providers in selecting a child restraint system – particularly important because due to the lack of regulation and testing requirements specific to ground ambulances, many of the available child restraint devices were not designed for use in ambulances, some were tested to automotive standards and others were not tested at all.

In the end, the ultimate goal of ALL the recommendations: Prevent forward motion/ejection, secure the torso, and protect the head, neck, and spine of all children transported in emergency ground ambulances.

In short – transport these children safely.

We know that since the adoption of “mandatory use laws” in the U.S. for child safety restraints in automobiles, that thousands of children’s lives have been saved. Yet for years we have continued to allow children to be transported unrestrained on ambulances. With this report, we have finally taken a step in the right direction

It is hoped that the recommendations provided in this report will address the lack of consistent standards or protocols among EMS and child passenger safety professionals in the United States regarding how to most safely transport children in ground ambulances from the scene of a traffic crash or medical emergency to a hospital or other facility. It should be noted that the expectation is that States, localities, associations, and EMS providers will implement these recommendations to improve the safe transportation of children in emergency ground ambulances when responding to calls encountered in the course of day-to-day operations of EMS providers. In addition, it is hoped that EMS providers will be better prepared to safely transport children in emergency ground ambulances when faced with disaster and mass casualty situations”.

…. Amen to that !!



Editorial Update: Quite a bit has happened since the original publication of this article. Suffice it to say that while this was a terrific step in the right direction – it was not enough to cause the system-wide level of change hoped for. According to… unanswered questions remain, primarily due to the lack of ambulance crash testing research specific to children.To address this, in 2017 the National Association of State EMS Officials (NASEMSO) established the Safe Transport of Children Ad Hoc Committee, with the goal of improving the safety of children transported by ambulance through the creation of evidence-based standards. Pediatric Safety will continue to follow their efforts in future articles as they work to improve the national standard of care and establish consistent guidelines for the safe transport of all our children on ambulances. Every ride, every time.



1. Notice published by NHTSA of Public Meeting on August 5th, 2010 to discuss draft version Recommendations for Safe Transport of Children on Ground Ambulance Vehicles: Federal Register, July 19, 2010,

2 & 3. Working Group Best-Practice Recommendations for the Safe Transportation of Children in Emergency Ground Ambulances: NHTSA / USDOT, September 2012

4. “EMS to Your Rescue?” Int’l Forum on Traffic Records & Hwy Safety Info. Systems – Levick N, July, 2008

Best Water Safety Products: Because Kids Don’t Naturally Float

keeping your family safeNo one has eyes in the back of their head, but when it comes to water and young children an extra set of eyes would sure help keep children safer. Today I’m talking about some water safety products that can act like an extra pair of eyes.

If you have a pool and also have young children, non-swimmers, or a special needs child, think about investing in a wrist alarm. Also a great product to have when you are traveling or visiting grandma’s pool and your child doesn’t understand water safety. The child wears a colorful wristband that locks into place so that they can’t remove the band. If the sensor on the band is submerged in water the base station lights up and sounds a piercing alarm. I recently found the Safety Angel 2 system and can confirm that the alarm made me jump, which is exactly what you need if you think your toddler was napping, the door to the pool was locked, the gate was closed, or any other comforting thought. Click here to watch a video about the inventor, a former Special Forces Combat Diver.

If you do have a pool, I’d also invest in a door alarm for all outside doors that lead to the pool, ornamental pond or nearby stream or retention pond. Amazon has a huge selection. Of course, don’t forget to fence your pool with a self-latching gate.


When you are in the pool with a non-swimmer, not-so-confident swimmer or a special needs child, think about getting a SwimFin. I test drove one and they earned a permanent place in our swim bag when my children were younger. While only a Coast Guard approved life jacket will keep a child truly safe, SwimFin leaves arms and legs free to practice swim strokes, do huge jumps, keeps a child afloat and best of all, they look so cool your child will actually ask you to wear it!

Think I’m being overcautious with my layers of protection? Watch this video to be reminded of how creative children can be in crafting escape strategies. It’s not just children though, if you have elderly parents with dementia or Alzheimer’s they are also at risk. I have heard of many people who also buy alarm systems for their pets, though this video would indicate that where water is concerned some dogs just want to have fun!

If you are thinking ‘that seems a bit much to spend on something I don’t need’, these products are comparable in price to a car seat, which everyone buys, yet drowning kills almost as many children as car accidents every year.

Of course there is no substitute for direct adult supervision, because you are the lifeguard on duty, but technology can make your job easier, and your child safer.

PMD March 2005: Announcing the PedREST

In 2004 Pediatric Medical received notice that we were going to be granted our first patent – YEAH!!! We were finally ready to share our “creation” with the world

Our first opportunity came in March 2005 with something called the LifeSavers Conference. For those of you not familiar with it, Lifesavers is the premier national highway safety meeting in the United States dedicated to reducing the tragic toll of deaths and injuries on our nation’s roadways… The conference addresses a wide range of safety topics, from child passenger safety and occupant protection to roadway and vehicle safety and technology. It offers the latest information on advances in highway safety, highlights successful programs and draws attention to emerging safety issues.” It was to be held that year in North Carolina and seemed like the perfect place to “showcase” our new device. They even had a workshop scheduled on “transporting children on ambulances” being run by Dr. Marilyn Bull of Riley’s Children’s Hospital – well known for her work on ambulance safety. And for the icing on the cake – I had family in Charlotte – so I could attend the conference without having to rent a hotel room.

I made arrangements to attend the conference and not too long after drove to North Carolina for breakfast with my mother’s cousin and his girlfriend who worked for Britax (one of the most well-respected manufactures of child seats in the world – seriously what a coup)! Later that afternoon I met her over at the conference and she introduced me to the Britax folks in charge of new business development – who took one look at what we had and introduced us to SnugSeat – the company they partnered with to manufacture “specialty child seats”. Oh, and before I forget, while we were still at the Britax booth, some local EMS guys stopped by, saw our demo, and asked where they could get one. Can you say happy as a pig xxx xxxx??? (I’ll let you fill in the blanks)

Later that afternoon I attended the workshop on safe ambulance transport for kids. Unfortunately Dr Bull had been taken ill and could not attend herself – however her colleagues (Dr Judith Talty and Shayne Merritt) gave the presentation on her behalf. Their conclusion – which was no surprise to anyone, especially me – was that there really were no safe ways to transport little kids and that they hoped manufacturers would change this for the future.

At this point – totally “jazzed” – I waited until after the session and spoke with Dr Talty and Shayne. Both were floored by the PedREST presentation and asked me to please keep in touch and forward whatever I could to Dr Bull. Flying high I made the rounds of the other child seat manufacturers attending the conference (Graco, Evenflo, etc.) and finally, exhausted, headed for home.

5 days later I headed to Philadelphia for the EMS Today conference and there met with the top “players” in the EMS industry – Stryker, Ferno, Laerdal, Microtek Medical, Allied Health, etc. The response was tremendous, and the offers of encouragement and support, overwhelming! The PedREST was a hit!

Two weeks later, the following email arrived from Shayne Merritt:


We will be passing this information on to Dr. Bull. In the meantime, if you have any photos or schematics that you could send for Dr. Bull, that would be helpful.

Your product is very intriguing and exciting since it’s success would fill an important need.


As I look back on all of this, I can’t help but smile when I think about how on top of the world we were. The people we met…the welcome we received. I couldn’t have imagined a better way to start the next phase of our journey! Little did I know how much more of a journey lay ahead. To me, at that moment, the PedREST had officially arrived…

Until next time…

PMD 2004: And After Every Rain…A Rainbow

As you can probably tell, 2004 was a bit of a rollercoaster. And trust me when I say that after that disaster of a weekend, I was seriously ready for the cart to start rolling uphill again.

Sure enough Monday afternoon found us on a conference call with the examiner from the US patent office. See our patent had been already gone through 3 office actions and things were getting a little frustrating (not to mention expensive) so we decided to speak directly to the examiner to see if we could understand the rationale behind what he would and wouldn’t approve. Now having gone through this process several times, I feel obliged to tell you that unfortunately, in all likelihood a call like this will probably not leave you with a better understanding of how your examiner thinks. What it can do however is provide you with insight into the one or two words or phrases that your examiner has a conflict with….and that can make all the difference in the world. Case in point:

Our call began with our examiner showing us the “prior art” (i.e. other existing patents filed before ours) that he believed we would infringe upon with our current claim language. We went back and forth over a couple of minor points, made some small changes and then sat down to discuss what he considered to be the one “obstacle” we hadn’t yet overcome: a portable surgery tray that attached to a stretcher and kept the medical instruments secure – OR – as far as we could see – a cafeteria lunch tray with a strap running across it. (note – those of you who’ve been through this process are no-doubt chuckling because you’ve “lived the dream” of bizarre prior art references – for those of you whose jaws just hit the table, know that ours did too and we hadn’t even gotten to the best part).

We were quiet for a second and then our patent attorney who had joined us in the call proceeded to ask very calmly how the examiner thought this could be used to secure a child for safe transport to a hospital. His answer – no joke – “well you could tape a baby to that tray”.

The silence was deafening…I mean seriously, how do you counter that??? Finally, after what seemed like minutes (ok, really only seconds) of silence I made a decision. No amount of intelligent discussion / arguing was going to change his opinion. I just needed to know where in his opinion we had gone wrong so that we could fix it. So I sucked it up and asked…and to my surprise, he told me. Not long after that we filed our final response with the USPTO.

For weeks I checked PAIR (the Patent Application Information Retrieval system for the USPTO) daily hoping for some kind of sign that we were finally done. Thanksgiving morning (…and yes it really was Thanksgiving) I got one – our official “Notice of Allowance” was posted. 🙂

I could follow this part of the story with a section on “what I learned” but I feel pretty confident that you all can figure that out on your own. I will say that after what felt like a torrential downpour I finally got my rainbow…

Until next time…with love from the “tape a baby corporation”

PMD: 2004 – That Which Does Not Kill Us…

You know how there are some things in life that are pivotal – something happens, and it changes the way you see yourself or others around you…and sometimes it even changes your life. Well in 2004 Pediatric Medical and I hit a bump in the road – and neither of us would ever be the same after.

I mentioned in a previous post that I had a family friend who had offered to help us make PMD a reality, someone who was both a friend and mentor to me. Well by March 2004 the two of us were off and running discussing strategies for bringing the “PedREST” (our child seat for safe ambulance transport) to market and making plans for Pediatric Medical’s path forward. I was literally on Cloud 9 and nothing could bring me down. 🙂

Within a month I started working producing an animated marketing demo (something she felt strongly would really help folks understand why the PedREST was so important). I hired some animators from California and after a couple of pretty intense working sessions the project was complete. Video in hand, I headed to her home for the weekend.

I know in hindsight that this may sound silly, but at the time I was feeling pretty darn good about what I’d accomplished in such a short time…I had this really cool 3D-animated demo to show her, we had a meeting setup for the following day with a potential investor whose support was going to make it possible to bring the PedREST to market by the end of the year…and more importantly, for the first time I felt like I had finally proven myself to her– why else would she suggest sitting down to discuss our future as partners together. I honestly couldn’t have been more psyched …or more wrong.

My first hint that our time together was not going to be anything at all like I expected occurred within moments after I arrived. After a hug and a hello, we sat down at a table with her friend – the lawyer. We spent the next two hours talking about why she should have more than 50% share in the company (…after all, she would be contributing a large sum of money – significantly more than my sister and I put together – shouldn’t she be in control of it?) AND why we should buy out (think – cut ties to) my sister (…didn’t I know the inventor of the idea doesn’t usually maintain a share).

For hours we went around and around on the same questions – why wasn’t I willing to drop Suzanne …why wasn’t I comfortable giving up control of the company and …how long would it take for me to think things through and make a decision so we could move forward? We could draw up the paperwork that weekend if I liked and include the money she had “loaned” me for the demo.

Loaned??? Wait a second – when had the money she promised me for the demo that she wanted me to create become a loan??? My head was swimming. I honestly had no idea what to do at that point. While I was incredibly psyched that she believed in our project enough to invest her own money (she was in fact the investor we were to meet with the following day), there was no way I was booting my sister. I had made a promise – a commitment to her – and I was going to see it through. Finally, I asked for time to think about it (at this point I felt brain-dead), and we wrapped up for the day.

It was at that point when I remembered (@*&#%) I wasn’t leaving…I was staying at her home for the night.

About an hour later we sat down on her couch and she asked if we could talk (…of course in my mind, she hadn’t meant for the day to go as it did…I just had to give her a chance to explain and apologize). Wrong again. Instead I spent the next hour hearing how I was making all the wrong decisions in my life…why wasn’t I married yet (or even dating someone seriously)? Why wasn’t I in a different career? Didn’t I realize this venture was going to take several years to come to market??? (I should be in a much better financial position than the one I was in).

I’d like to say that I was stronger – that I picked myself up, grabbed my bags and walked out of there – but in truth I just sat there in disbelief…and went to sleep that night feeling utterly crushed.

Thinking back on it today, I recognize what a Pivotal Moment that day was… The reality was that I was upset with her for being the tough, focused business-woman I had always been impressed by. Except – she was being that way with me – something I never in a million years expected. To her this was purely business,and she was treating me like an acquisition target when I considered myself family. She had compartmentalized and I had not. And although that day I felt totally betrayed, I also learned a couple of things about myself:

First – I had always said my word was my bond, and I know I believed it when I said it…but my word, my character, had never really been tested until that day…and I am truly proud to say I passed.

One other thing I learned that day was that this woman I had always admired and idolized – I did not in fact want to “grow up to be like her”. I might never be anywhere near as powerful and successful as she was, but surprisingly enough that didn’t matter the way I thought it would… once I saw what it would take to get there, I was unwilling to pay the price.

Life is funny sometimes. The experiences we live…the choices we make…for better or for worse they define who we are… Did I make the right choice? Perhaps not if it turns out that the PedREST never makes it to market. Or maybe so, because the path I chose led me to Pediatric Safety. I guess for now the jury’s still out, although for those of you kind enough to join me on this journey, I’d love to know what you think…

Until next time…

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