My daughter Avery is 6 years old and has severe food allergies to eggs, milk, peanuts, tree nuts, shellfish and melons. She has worn a medical ID bracelet from the time she was diagnosed (shortly after turning one year old).Whenever newly diagnosed families ask me if they should get one, too, I answer most definitely YES. Here are five reasons why:
1. You may not always be able to speak for your child. What if you were in a car accident and unable to speak for your child? What if there was a natural disaster and you were separated from your child? What if she gets lost at the mall and and a security guard tries to give her a cookie to help her stay calm? A medical ID is going to alert adults and officials that your child has a medical condition.
2. It encourages conversation about your child’s food allergy. When people notice the bracelet, they often ask what it is for. This summer my daughter’s swim instructor asked about her bracelet during the first lesson. I never imagined food would be a concern at swimming lessons, but the instructor told me she always gives (unsafe) treats to students at the final lesson — our conversation helped her rethink her game plan.
3. Wearing a bracelet sends a serious message. There are many misconceptions about food allergies — wearing medical ID jewelry helps communicate the seriousness of your child’s food allergies. It’s common for people to think food allergies are like food sensitivities. For example, my daughter is allergic to milk — this is very different than being lactose intolerant. Although lactose intolerance can cause severe discomfort, it is not life threatening. True food allergies can cause anaphylaxis and possibility of death.
4. It’s easier to get them used to it while they are young. Most of the medical ID jewelry on the market is meant to be worn 24/7 — including while sleeping and bathing. It took less than a week for my daughter to get used to wearing her bracelet. Now we barely notice it. I’ve talked with families who wait to introduce medical ID jewelry until a child starts school and then face a battle of wills with the child. Many children end up wearing them only during the school day and then end up forgetting it. I like having it as a regular part of our lives, not a special thing we have to remember. In fact, I didn’t even think to remove it during our family portraits recently – and that’s okay.
5. You won’t regret having one, but you might regret not having one.
As parents, we constantly have to make difficult decisions about, and for, our children. In my short five years as a parent I’ve adopted the motto “better safe than sorry,” – always pushing for more information and getting things checked out if something “just doesn’t feel right.” Like many parents, I also beat myself up when I miss something – especially if it could have been avoided. Our children are so precious and so important, this is something we can do that costs little time, money or annoyance.
Interested in getting medical ID jewelry?
There are many types of ID jewelry and clothing on the market. There are metal and silicone bracelets, bracelets with mini-data discs in them that store your info, necklaces, charm bracelets, watches and more. Most of these can be engraved with medical information to help emergency personnel diagnose why someone is unresponsive or simply to alert other adults that a medical condition exists. A simple internet search for “medical ID jewelry” will give you many web sites to check out.
The “full service” option is to buy a MedicAlert piece of jewelry — you get the jewelry with engraving, but you also pay an annual fee for them to keep your medical information on file. Emergency personnel call the 800 number engraved on the bracelet to receive more information from operators who answer 24 hours a day. They provide treatment information (such as medications), physician information, parent information and phone numbers that you registered with them. I made the choice to use the MedicAlert program for the first five or so years. You can learn more about their IDs for Children here. Our next bracelet came from Lauren’s Hope and we are really happy with it as well. They have many different types of jewelry you can customize for your child. I like that I had room to put my own cell phone number on the engraved part.
Some of you have asked my opinion on the cartoon-like allergen bracelets you can find at stores such as Walgreens. I believe any bracelet is better than no bracelet. That said, I’m not a fan of them. I don’t like the idea of branding my child with a photo of their allergen. I’m personally severely allergic to cats, and the last thing I would ever want to do is wear a picture of a cat on my body. For me, they are bad and represent suffering. Why would I want to wear something on my body that constantly reminds me how much I hate cats?
Even though some people believe the cartoons make the bracelets more kid-friendly, the fact is that the bracelets are meant to communicate to adults, not children, about severe allergies. Finally, the silicone bracelets don’t feel natural on the skin and children may be more tempted to take it off during the day, night or whenever it’s bothering them. The more traditional metal bracelets sit closer to the skin and fit more snugly on the wrist so the wearer usually doesn’t notice it is there. My hunch is that children are more compliant with wearing a traditional metal bracelet because of this. I often hear two phrases in the food allergy world: 1) My child’s been wearing a (metal) medical bracelet since they were diagnosed and never take it off! and 2) My child won’t keep their (silicone) bracelet on, they keep taking it off. The more traditional bracelets usually go on and stay on. Of course each person and situation is different, so you need to do what works for your family.
You can find more of my food allergy posts, tips & recipes on my Food Allergy page. I’d also love to connect with you on my Marketing Mama facebook page and twitter. This post, and all posts on this blog, are written from my experiences as a parent of a child with food allergies. I am not a medical expert and encourage you to consult with a doctor on your personal medical situation.
I was not compensated in any way by MedicAlert or Lauren’s Hope. They did not contact me or ask me to write about them. I’m happy with their services and feel comfortable recommending them to others.
Both comments and pings are currently closed.