Why are teal pumpkins popping up on porches?

Don't be surprised if you see more teal pumpkins popping up in your neighborhood. This Halloween, allergy doctors would love to see every house have one.

Charlie, 4, is allergic to soy and her younger sister can't eat peanuts. That makes Halloween more of a trick than a treat for them, but one item that's always part of their costume: an EpiPen.

One in 13 kids under the age of 18 has some kind of allergy to common ingredients found in candy, like milk, nuts or eggs.

"For some children, even a tiny bite of one of these allergens can cause a severe reaction," said Dr. Katie Marks-Cogan, an allergy, asthma and immunology specialist. "And if it leads to anaphylaxis, there's a potential for it to be fatal."

Marks-Cogan hopes this year more households will join the Teal Pumpkin Project. The campaign started five years ago in Tennessee and has gone viral, thanks to the group Food Allergy Research and Education.

Ashley Atkinson from El Segundo has two daughters, Charlie and Millie.

"This year, we're going to be putting teal pumpkins out at our house, letting others know that we have allergen-safe treats," Atkinson said.

Marks-Cogan would like to see everyone go with a teal pumpkin, but some critics say that's taking the fun out of the holiday.

"For children with food allergies, it's a very difficult holiday and many of them don't feel included already because their parents are too scared to send them out trick-or-treating," Marks- Cogan said. "But if you have a plan and you also have a project like the Teal Pumpkin Project, you can hopefully feel safe enough to let your child be included in this holiday."

She says making Halloween safe for everyone allows every child to be part of the fun. Non-food treats include pencils, erasers, stickers and plastic spiders. You can find participating "Teal Pumpkin" homes online at www.foodallergy.org.

If your child does get candy, beware of fun-sized candies. Marks-Cogan says they don't always contain all the same ingredients as their large-size counterparts.

"Review the labels for these fun-sized candies, and if there aren't labels, don't eat it," Marks-Cogan said. "I always say, 'If you're not sure what's in it, don't eat it.' I recommend parents encouraging their children to say no in a polite way to people that want to hand them out homemade treats because it's very hard to know what's in those."

Charlie hopes to get more vampire teeth. It's a treat safe to bite into.
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