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Allergy Cards Help Spread Word About Children’s Health Risks

September 10, 2014

Aside From Assuring Parents That Caretakers Are Informed, the Burden on Children Eases

Allergy cards are increasingly popping up on back-to-school shopping lists as parents seek a more efficient and thorough way to inform a new batch of teachers, coaches, sitters and friends about their children's allergies.

The handout, usually the size of a business card, details a child's allergies and includes instructions on how to handle a reaction, sometimes with a reminder to dial 911 before the parents' phone numbers, which usually are also listed.

Aside from providing assurance for parents that caretakers are well-informed, allergy cards can ease the burden on children to have to frequently explain—or hear about—their allergies, companies say. "A 5-year-old doesn't want to hear his mom explain his allergy every time he has a play-date," says Chris Kejriwal, owner of Luxe Cards LLC, whose PurpleTrail stationery unit has seen a rush of orders in recent weeks ahead of the new school year.

Most allergy cards are whimsical despite the sometimes life-or-death information they carry. Tiny Prints, part of Shutterfly Inc.

says an allergy-card design that features a yelling monster is especially popular. "Children might have anxiety around [their allergies], and people who aren't familiar with dealing with allergies might be scared, too," says Meg Bohnert, senior trend expert for Tiny Prints. "These monsters are a fun and effective way to share this critical information."

Zazzle Inc., which creates user-generated, customized goods, says sales of its allergy-warning products nearly doubled in July compared with the year earlier, with most consumers preferring stickers and buttons over business cards, a spokeswoman says. Sticker designs include a stop sign that reads "I have food allergies! Please don't feed me!"

More parents are including a photo of their children on allergy cards, especially when cards are intended for camp counselors or other group leaders, says Jeff Prus, vice president of product design at Vistaprint. Year-to-date, sales of allergy cards are up 50% over the year before, he says.

Of course, adults suffer allergies, too. Ms. Kejriwal says PurpleTrail has received an increasing number of orders for adults who want to distribute cards to restaurant staffs, especially when traveling to countries where they don't speak the language. So far, the company has translated allergy instructions into Spanish, Chinese, Hindi and Hebrew.

(Source: online.wsj.com)


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