By Gerald W. Deas, M.D.
Well, here it is again, Halloween, which is usually celebrated on Oct. 31, before All Saints Day. It is observed especially by children who masquerade in costumes and go from door to door collecting and ingesting foods and candies that contain high concentrations of sugar, food colorings and other chemicals. Those little bags that they carry around with them and fill with treats given so generously just by knocking on a door, may be a danger to their health and personalities. In fact, they may take on the character of the costumes they are wearing.
Dr. Benjamin Feingold, a noted allergist, has shown that food additives and sugars can cause behavioral and other learning problems. These behavioral problems may include restlessness and the inability to concentrate, which could contribute to difficulty with school work.
Halloween treats may also contain artificial colors and flavors, along with preservatives such as BHA, BHT and TBHQ. Often, the colors contain sulfites, which can cause an acute asthma attack.
Make sure that your child does not eat or take as a treat things that are not individually packaged. It has been reported that unwrapped candies may be contaminated by E-coli from unclean hands. Fruits such as apples, grapes and pears should be washed thoroughly before being consumes. Monitoring the treats that have been collected is important. There are some scary people out there who might place unwanted chemicals in edible foods. These are scary times,
As you take your child from house to house, it may be a good idea to take them during the daylight hours so that you can observe their surroundings more keenly.
When I was a child, many of these precautions were not even thought of by trusting parents. Today, times are different, and an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. I would strongly advise that many of the Halloween activities be celebrated at home parties, churches and schools, where games and play can be supervised.
In closing, make your Halloween a safe and enjoyable one for the little ones who you love and want to protect.