Are nut-free schools making allergies worse?

Posted by Lylah M. Alphonse  March 20, 2009 12:18 AM

E-mail this article

Invalid E-mail address
Invalid E-mail address

Sending your article

We deal with a few food allergies and intolerances in our household. One of our kids has been gluten- and casein-free now for about five years; that means no wheat, barley, US-processed (and possibly cross-contaminated) oats, MSG, modified food starch, or dairy of any kind (casein is a milk protein). When he was younger, we had to avoid eggs, soy, and corn (and anything containing corn derivatives, like corn syrup) as well. Yeah, that was fun; thank goodness he grew out of some of those.

Another child is allergic to wheat and used to be allergic to cashews, green beans, and chicken. Yes, chicken. She outgrew that, too, but gets horrible, itchy eczema if she consumes wheat. A third is off gluten. The other two don't seem to be allergic to anything -- yet. None of them are anaphalactic to anything, thank goodness, but being GFCF can make eating out and packing lunches a bit of a challenge.

My youngest kids' preschool and daycare are nut-free zones (which, compared to avoiding gluten, is a cinch). But I read with interest the studies that came out earlier this week, about a possible therapy that seems to be helping kids overcome their peanut allergies by giving them daily, controlled doses of the very thing to which they're allergic.

"But over several years, the children's bodies learned to tolerate peanuts. Immune-system tests show no sign of remaining allergy in five youngsters, and others can withstand amounts that once would have left them wheezing or worse," the Associated Press reported.

Which led me to two thoughts: 1.) Are scientists taking a page out of homeopathy's handbook? And 2.) If very small -- practically microscopic -- encounters with allergens can eventually "teach" one's immune system to tolerate, rather than reject, certain substances, are our peanut-free classrooms causing problems rather than preventing them?

Please note: I am not suggesting that kids aren't really allergic to nuts, or anything else for that matter. My friend's child's face blows up like a balloon if he so much as rubs his eyes after touching someone else who's handled nuts -- food allergies are very real (though, thanks to an over-reliance on simple blood tests, misdiagnoses also seem to be on the rise). But as I scan product labels for the umpteenth time, looking for hints of gluten, I wonder... since our kids don't have celiac disease and their allergies aren't life threatening, is avoiding every last trace of gluten just making things worse for them in the long run?

Lylah M. Alphonse is a Globe staff member and mom and stepmom to five kids. She writes about juggling career and parenthood at The 36-Hour Day and blogs at Write. Edit. Repeat. E-mail her at lalphonse@globe.com.


Recent posts:

New Dora? No, thank you


What do you wish someone had told you when you first became a parent?

Boston Youths think Rihanna to blame for getting beaten up

How much online privacy should a teenager have?

Help! My tween says I'm embarrassing him!

This blog is not written or edited by Boston.com or the Boston Globe.
The author is solely responsible for the content.

E-mail this article

Invalid E-mail address
Invalid E-mail address

Sending your article

59 comments so far...
  1. If schools that aren't nut free are improving the situation, than why has it been getting progressively worse over the last decade? Nut-Free schools are a recent phenomenon - they were unheard of when the rise in peanut allergies started, they weren't necessary. This oral immunotherapy that has cured a few children is done over a 2 year period, and initial doses are given in the hospital - and every time the dose is increased it's given in the hospital. Classrooms aren't comparable unless they are staffed with emergency medical personnel and life saving equipment. JMO, but I believe all schools through 6th or 8th grade should be nut free.

    Posted by Lisa March 20, 09 03:30 AM
  1. I have a child with a life-threatening allergy to peanuts. I also publish Food Allergy Buzz (www.foodallergybuzz.com), a blog where I share information on food allergy friendly products, businesses and resources. While it may that something about our lifestyles over the last 100 years or so that has caused the increasing numbers of peanut allergic children, it certainly isn't the peanut/nut-free zones or classes or schools. Nut-free zones are a very recent phenomenon and exist as a response to the severe allergies some children have. I also would like to point out that there are not very many nut-free elementary, middle or high schools in Massachusetts. Nut-free preschools are more common, and for good reason, very young children tend to put everything and anything in their mouths! For some peanut/nut allergic individuals, accidentally ingesting peanuts or nuts could be fatal, and unfortunately, there is no way to predict anaphylactic reactions.

    Posted by Jennifer B March 20, 09 07:46 AM
  1. The false analogy between desensitizing treatment for allergies and homeopathy is discussed here:
    http://www.theness.com/neurologicablog/?s=allergy+shots

    The linked article focuses on allergy shots rather than the oral tolerance route but the principle is the same

    Posted by Claire O'B March 20, 09 08:40 AM
  1. Lylah,

    There is a tremendous range of reactivity to various allergens, and even a microscopic trace of peanuts or tree nuts -- moreso than most other allergens -- can cause a catastrophic reaction in a very allergic child. While I too have been following the Duke studies with interest, as my son is anaphylactic to milk and milk protein (and is one of the very lucky few who actually just outgrew his peanut allergy at age 5 - which is very unusual), those studies are done in a very controlled environment. I hardly think that schools are the place to be testing out whether microscopic exposure is beneficial, especially when it comes to peanuts and tree nuts!

    My son reacts on contact with milk. Am I going to ask the school to be milk-free? no, because it can be managed through careful supervision (milk cannot get airborne and wipes away pretty easily). But even though my son is no longer allergic to peanuts, I will still stick with soynut butter as a matter of courtesy to those children who have the allergy.

    If you want to experiment with exposing your child to small amounts of gluten . . go for it! We did that with egg, and it worked out fine. But I'd recommend doing so under the supervision of an alelrgist.

    Posted by CMT March 20, 09 08:48 AM
  1. Lylah,

    Homeopathy uses active substances that are so diluted that it's likely you have NO active compound intake. The next scientific study that proves that homeopathy works will be the first I see...

    The study on overcoming allergies by starting with very small (but measurable) doses of the allergen and working the dosage up is very promising, and it is a proper scientific study opening the door to hope that some of the worst allergies can be cured or at least controlled.

    So, to answer your question, there is NO connection between homeopathy and the study you refer to, but it is a very promising study that incidentally confirms that by overprotecting our children from exposure to potential allergens we might be making the situation worse, at least for some kids.

    One more thing - please do not try this at home. The doses taken by the kids in the study were VERY small to start with, increased at a slow pace and the children were under close medical supervision throughout. A DIY approach to this can seriously endanger your child... wait until the research is closer to being applicable on a large scale and definitely talk to your doctor about this.

    Posted by HBX March 20, 09 08:52 AM
  1. Ditto the comments above: truly "nut free" schools are a very recent phenomenon. When my 14 year old went through pre-k and elementary schools, "nut free" was never discussed. My current 9 year old attended a pre-school school where they had a "nut free" *table* (not a nut free school), and his elementary is not nut free in any way. So the trend is not widespread, and it is new. Therefore I find it stretches credulity to suggest that nut-free zones have anything to do with worsening allegeries; the increase in allergies has been on-going for over a decade. It's also important to note the very controlled conditions the kids in the study learned to tolerate nuts: microscopic doses, under the care of and monitored by doctors.

    Posted by j-len March 20, 09 09:03 AM
  1. It is just not worth the risk!!!!

    There is no evidence that uncontrolled exposures can treat food allergies. Too many kids are so sensitive in their allergies that anaphylactic shock would be a daily risk. In some cases, these children have stopped breathing and nearly died during early exposures. I know of a couple of those cases. Luckily my kids are fine, but I have friends who have to control every potential exposure of their children and it is truly a burden. The threat is as real as a loaded gun.

    I understand the spirit that you write this in, but please let science work this out and don't suggest irresponsibly risky policies. There are still those who think food allergies mean sniffles and runny noses! Do not provide fodder for the ignorant!!

    Posted by Annette F March 20, 09 09:39 AM
  1. We thought we understood allergies and autoimmune disorders. Problem is, we don't, not fully. Immunology is still in its infancy. It'll take large, long-term, randomized, placebo-controlled studies to get this sorted out.

    Posted by Columbine March 20, 09 09:40 AM
  1. I really hope that people don't read just this headline and assume that it's ok now to bring peanut butter to their child's preschool. I think that this headline should be edited, given that these allergies are life-threatening and some parents see "nut-free" as an imposition.

    Thanks, Concerned. I'm going to give readers a little more credit than that, though, and assume that when they see a question in a headline on a blog post that they don't mistake it for a statement of fact. What I'm wondering about is whether preventing kids who are NOT anaphalactic from being around certain allergens is less beneficial than we've assumed. The post clearly says that I agree that allergies can be life-threatening, and that my own kids have food allergies, so I'm definitely in the "keep our kids safe" camp here. -- LMA . -- LMA

    Posted by ConcernedWithNutAllergicChild March 20, 09 09:43 AM
  1. My nephew nearly died on an ER table when he was a toddler - after having a peanut butter sandwich. Until that point, no one knew he was allergic. My brother, his father, however, is allergic to many things and has been since he was a toddler himself - so my nephew's allergy was not surprising. His reaction to peanuts, however, put the fear of God in my brother and his wife and for the next few years, he touched nothing with nuts.

    Now, after testing and introducing nut contaminated food back into his diet, his allergy has slowly but surely gone away. He went from not being able to be around the food item to being just fine.

    Their problem? He's been so scared of nuts by his teachers and other family members consistently telling him that they'll kill him, that he won't willingly eat them. The food therapy has been done on the sly.

    So, no, I don't think that peanut free classrooms or schools are hurting the allergy issue itself, but I believe that the culture of panic that succeeded in implementing these policies is.

    As an additonal note, my best friend was anaphylactic when it came to any nuts. Even being in the same room where nuts had been prepared would cause a reaction. For years, she avoided all contact with all nuts as peanuts, walnuts, pine nuts all caused the same reaction. But then she took it upon herself to start exposing herself to more nuts and areas with nuts and her allergy has diminished significantly. She is still anaphylactic if she ingests a certain quantity of nuts, but her allergy is nowhere near the level it once was.

    The reason that she decided to do this was that she was tired of the culture of panic and being a scientist herself, began reading studies on this matter. She conferred with her doctor and began her own road of therapy. It didn't take long to see results and she can eat out far more often now than she ever could before.

    I do think that knee jerk reactions like banning all nuts in a school because one student has an allergy are a huge part of our problem. But I'm very interested to understand better WHY this upturn in allergic reactions is happening at all - and that includes gluten.


    Posted by phe March 20, 09 09:45 AM
  1. I think if a child who is allergic to nut (and definately anaphylactic) it should be the parent's decision to expose to the child to the allergen and it should be while the child is under the supervision of a doctor and parents. I do not believe that introducing nuts at school where so many things could go wrong, is the answer. What happens if the child is anaphylactic or has a worse reaction than normal and happens to be alone in a bathroom at the time. Nevermind the embarassment factor for a child to have a severe reaction in front of a large group of peers. If my child had a nut allergy I would not be okay with him being casually exposed to nuts at school! School is stressful enough for parents and kids without adding this worry to it. I don't think schools on the whole should nessesarily be nut-free...but if a child at the school has known severe reactions then the school either needs to consider being nut-free or have a program in place to reduce the child's daily risk without singling him/her out from the other kids. Children with severe reactions should also carry an epi-pen.

    Posted by wolfeyes March 20, 09 09:48 AM
  1. I'm curios why the nut allergies are so present here in the U.S. but in other countries such as Africa or Thailand they are unheard of? I do not dispute they are real, I just think the cause of allergies is slightly more important than what perpetuates them, but both are important.

    Posted by itsme March 20, 09 09:54 AM
  1. Sorry, but I think that taking the promise of the recent study and jumping to the conclusion that nut-free scenarios are bad is completely inane. This kind of speculation only provides fuel for the people who resent my kid for having a nut allergy in the first place.

    Thanks for commenting, tiesl, but I'm not jumping to a conclusion at all. I'm wondering if preventing kids who are not anaphalactic from being around certain allergens (in my kids' case, gluten) is less beneficial than we've assumed. I never said that nut-free scenarios are bad -- on the contrary, they make sense if a person is severely allergic. -- LMA

    Posted by tiesl March 20, 09 10:11 AM
  1. Free-association in such a forum can be dangerous. Earlier posts have correctly pointed out the difference between homeopathy and medical treatments as well as the supervised setting for desensitization to nut and other allergies. Nut-free schools offer a safety net for kids who would otherwise enter life-thereatening situations daily in the lunchroom. I recall a news item a few years back where a nut-allergic girl died after kissing her boyfriend who ate a peanut butter sandwich. It's that serious.

    Your free association may make interesting cocktail party conversation but it should not be published under the heading of "parenting news and advice".

    Scientific data can and will hold up to scrutiny and I am not complaining that you are questioning science - it's just that you do not have your facts straight. I sure hope no one reads this and decides to challenge a nut-allergic kid in a school cafeteria...

    Posted by InMyOpinion March 20, 09 10:15 AM
  1. This was in the news a couple years ago. I forwarded it to a friend that has a child with a severe nut allergy.

    The two elementary schools my kids have attended have had nut free tables, not a nut free school. So I continue to send in PB&J sandwiches and peanut butter granola bars, they are my kids favorites. If the school isn't nut free, I'm not going to change my behavior.

    And homeopathy? That is pure quackery.

    I firmly believe there a connection between the rise of food allergies and the super-clean, "cleanliness is next to godliness", American lifestyle that has arisen in the last 20-30 years. Combine that with the college educated stay at home Mom who desires the hermetically sealed house scrubed with every anti-bacterial agent marketed to them, kids who don't play outside for the whole day, but instead are driven from structured activity to structured activity and you have an immune systems that are undertaxed.

    I've never once stopped any of my kids from eating food they dropped on the floor!

    One of my friends has a child who is severly allergic to all tree nuts; he goes to a school that isn't "nut free" but does have a "nut-free table" at lunch. Any other parents in a similar situation? Does it worry you, or do you think a nut-free table is enough? -- LMA

    Posted by Margaret March 20, 09 10:28 AM
  1. Five words: Don't. Try. This. At. Home.

    Exactly! -- LMA

    Posted by geocool March 20, 09 11:06 AM
  1. Nut-free schools, classrooms, or tables DO NOT cause or exacerbate allergies! Young children are too young to police their own food intake or understand that it is potentially dangerous to share food with an allergic classmate. You are doing a grave disservice to severely allergic children to suggest that nut restrictions in school are making their conditions worse. There is already enough resentment among parents who cannot send their kids to school with peanut butter sandwiches. Until treatments are available for nut allergies and there is a better understanding of allergies and early exposure to nuts (or lack thereof), restrictions at schools are a necessity to protect children. Period.

    Posted by EpiPen Mom March 20, 09 11:07 AM
  1. My daughter is allergic to cashews and she had to go to emergency rooms three time because unknowingly ate less than one half of a cashew each time - her mouth and tongue were swollen up.

    Food allergy is real and can be life threatening. Please do not give out impression that it is ok to eliminate the nut-free zones!

    Sorry that's the impression you got, Bob. That's not what I'm saying at all. -- LMA

    Posted by bob March 20, 09 12:06 PM
  1. Just wondering what happens when mom and dad take junior out to a restaurant, a mall, or a park somewhere. Are those places made peanut-free? How about to church, or to scouts or at the grocery store? Should we make those peanut free as well?

    These days, schools are such oppressive, intolerant places. No nuts. No smoking. No candy. No soda. No cookies. No homebaked products.

    I'm so glad that I don't have to tolerate these places anymore.


    Posted by Martha Raddson March 20, 09 01:30 PM
  1. My family is lucky in that no one has any allergy to anything. However, when my kids started school they had a couple of classmates with severe nut allergies, and we were asked not to send PBJs, a staple up until that point. It was a small price to pay for safety. When it comes to this kind of issue, my motto is "imagine the shoe on the other foot."

    Posted by Sasha March 20, 09 01:31 PM
  1. How can you compare "nut free zones" in schools to recent study at Duke? Did you actually read the information about the study? The amount used to build up the tolerance was miniscule and conducted in a setting equipped to handle the possible anaphalactic aftermath. To suggest that children could build up their immunity to peanuts in schools while risking their lives is an extremely ignorant and dangerous suggestion. I am glad that your children do not have anaphalctic allergies and you do not have to worry that they may die if they have contact with an allergen, but avoiding peanuts and nuts is certainly not a "cinch" as you put it.
    To suggest in a forum such as this that nut-free zones may be unnecessary is so dangerous.
    GET INFORMED AND GET A CLUE!!!!

    Thanks, nut-free mom, but the last line of your comment was unncessary. At any rate... if you re-read my post, you'll see that I'm not suggesting anything like what you describe. Also: Avoiding sending my non-allergic children to school with nuts is a cinch, for me, compared to avoiding all gluten and all caesin for my children who do have allergies, which I've been doing for more than 5 years now. The fact that I don't have a hard time with it isn't a reflection on your experiences or capabilities. -- LMA

    Posted by nut-free mom March 20, 09 01:51 PM
  1. @Martha Raddson Actually, yes, "Junior" is very much at risk going to scouts, church, etc. Anaphylaxis can kill.

    Posted by Kate March 20, 09 02:04 PM
  1. Lylah, I think your article is very interesting. I'm sorry that some of the commentators have been unable to actually READ IT and have jumped to conclusions. I know the two are completely different, but it reminds me of the phenomenon of "super germs" being created as a result of the anti-bacterial craze. I agree with the poster who said it's equally as important to figure out why food allergens have become so prevalent over the past five to ten years.

    Thank you, Gretchen! I've been thinking about the anti-bacterial/super germ issue, too... -- LMA

    Posted by Gretchen Weiners March 20, 09 02:18 PM
  1. This is a tough topic. I was one of those parents who got annoyed at nut-free, gluten free, peanut free environments. It all seemed over the top...then my 5 yo had a severe reaction to a walnut. We carry epi-pens everywhere and read labels. Could exposing her to trace amounts of tree nuts get rid of the allergy??? Sure it could. Do I want to expose my child to something intentionally that could kill her within minutes??? NOPE. It's scarey to know that a little walnut could kill my baby in minutes without proper emergent medical care. Oddly enough, no allergy to peanuts, just tree nuts....scarey stuff.

    Posted by michael-NH March 20, 09 02:20 PM
  1. I understand what the author is trying to say, but I think there is no interesting theory here at all. Its an unscientific opinion that is bringing up a "debate" that really means nothing. To be honest I wish my daughter's daycare was nut free, as we don't want her to try peanuts until age 3 or 4 (my husband has a very severe reaction to seafood.) I'd really rather not carry an epi-pen and an epi-pen Jr. around.
    Nut free classrooms are not the problem. This article, while good-intentioned, does nothing but make meaningless hype, in my humble opinion.....

    Posted by veggirl March 20, 09 02:21 PM
  1. No one knows for sure, but science thinks that the usage of peanut oil as a ubiquitous and inexpensive binding agent within the last 75 years in all areas of the food industry has contributed to the increase in allergies.

    Two of my daughters are allergic to peanuts. They have Benadryl handy for a mild reaction, and an epipen in the event of a strong reaction, the latter of which thankfully they have never had to use. Vigilance is the key; friend's birthday parties are worrisome, and Halloween is downright frightening. I ate peanut butter all my life without issue, but noticed when I turned 40, I now get itchy when I eat anything with nuts, and there's no doubt about the cause and effect. We welcome any good news about regarding a potential cure or solution to this.

    Posted by cheesewhiz March 20, 09 02:33 PM
  1. The reason you are seeing such high peanut allergy, because parents are waiting to give there kids peanut butter until they are 3 and 4 years old. They don't get immune to it the peanuts so, now you are seeing more kids allergic to peanuts.

    Posted by HINGS March 20, 09 02:39 PM
  1. No, I don't think making schools nut-free is somehow harming children who are not otherwise allergic. After all, they actually don't spend the majority of their time at school. They can eat all the nuts they want at home.

    My own HOME is nut-free due to my son's allergy. Should we suddenly start keeping nuts around so the new baby can get some exposure? Not a chance.

    Posted by Col March 20, 09 02:41 PM
  1. Why are peanut and tree nut allergies common now? When I was growing up ('60s-70s) there were zero kids in the school (over 1000 kids) with peanut allergy.
    What the heck happened?

    Posted by Mystified March 20, 09 03:22 PM
  1. I dont know what you eat where peanut oil is a binder for foods....but if you believe that then eat more whole foods, less prepackaged junk, understand what you are consuming and what the words on the labels mean.

    It's worth noting that if peanut oil (or any other potential food allergen) is used in a non-food product (like medicine, or cosmetics, or toothpaste) the manufacturers aren't legally obligated to disclose it as an ingredient. -- LMA

    Posted by freerocks March 20, 09 03:28 PM
  1. Thanks for the article... and for putting your sanity at question. I've wondered the same thing over the years. My sisters and I all are all celiac and my son is allergic to oats, wheat, eggs, and bananas.

    My other concern is... why are schools so hip on the nut thing but don't seem to give a crap about any of the other items that are common (or uncommon) allergens? While at school, my son has had A-shock from eggs and vomitting & diarrhea from exposure to the other items. His school still allows all the items that are potentially life threatening to him.

    We've been told (by both his day care and his current school) that his choice / our alternatives are to eat at a table by himself... or with others with similar allergies. That's a lovely accomodation when compared to students who have nut allergies and get an entire school free of a food my son CAN have.

    Thanks for commenting, WonderingY. You make an excellent point about other allergies. I think a lot of people with Celiac have an even harder time when it comes to things like this, because their reactions to gluten aren't necessarily visible to others and so people tend to discount the seriousness of the disease. -- LMA

    Posted by WonderingY March 20, 09 03:57 PM
  1. why are all the parents of nut allergy children complete wackjobs? chill out, people...

    I was tempted not to let this comment go through, but where would free speech be if I did that? So I'm hitting publish, but I'm adding a comment of my own: If you haven't had to deal with the dangers of life-threatening allergies in your own children, count your blessings. And don't judge. -- LMA

    Posted by Don't have a kid allergic to nuts March 20, 09 04:00 PM
  1. Being a little jerky here, but where does it end? Do we ban ALL food? Sorry, but realistically, if we ban wheat, all nuts, most fruit, all dairy, seafood (tuna) etc. What is left?

    That's not jerky, CB... "Where does it end?" is a really good question. -- LMA

    Posted by CB March 20, 09 04:12 PM
  1. RE: nut allergies, maybe it's not the kids so much as the nuts themselves. Are we feeding our kids the same genetic nut varieties in this country as in Africa and Asia, or are they genetically modified nuts, whose non-natural-arising proteins are not properly treated by some immune systems.? I've also heard that in this country most nuts and nut-products are dry-roasted, which can change something in the nuts to make them more allergenic, whereas in Africa/Asia the nuts are fried or boiled, and that is a less allergenic process. Just curious if anyone knows more.

    Posted by bad_kitty March 20, 09 04:15 PM
  1. I'm not sure what's new about the Duke method. I had allergen therapy in the 1960s. Twice a year I'd go to the allergist to get shots just under my skin to find out that I was allergic to just about everything (chocolate, corn-on-the-cob [we could never figure out if that meant I could eat it if it was off the cob], as well as the usual pollen, dust and dander) and once a week the pediatrician would inject me with that stuff. I don't know if it worked, but I had a permanent stuffed and runny nose, and still talk nasally. Then we moved out of a roach-infested tenement that was downwind from refineries, into a high-rise. I think I stopped going for allergy shots because it was too far to travel, but I wasn't going through two handkerchiefs a day any more.

    Thanks for commenting, Fishwood! It's good to hear from someone who's been there...-- LMA

    Posted by Fishwood March 20, 09 04:28 PM
  1. Surely a precious child must be allergic to hydrogen - ban water from our schools now!

    Posted by BWFOS March 20, 09 04:39 PM
  1. Related to freerocks comment that one should eat more whole foods and less prepackaged junk. I agree. However, my daughter's Montessori school (pre-K-8) helped grow organic foods and encouraged homemade, whole-grain goodness at the holiday gatherings. UNTIL they went nut-free. Then, we were barred from bringing in homemade treats and only foods that were pre-packaged with labels were allowed. I've read some of those labels--they didn't list nuts, but they sure did list a bunch of other ingredients I wouldn't want my kid to eat. I'm not against nut-free for the younger kids, but as with everything, there are trade-offs.

    Posted by kiki322 March 20, 09 04:46 PM
  1. Most companies will disclose ingredients used in non food products upon request.

    Also, a simple Google search results in many fabulous resources as well here are some samples:

    http://allergicgirl.blogspot.com/2007/07/cosmetic-allergies.html
    http://www.itsnutfree.com/press/kirstydiary.phphttp://peanutfree.blogspot.com/2008/06/is-there-peanut-in-that-polish.html


    Posted by freerocks March 20, 09 04:47 PM
  1. I have to pipe up again. A lot of controversy is always generated about the idea of nut-free schools. Even though I have a child with life threatening peanut allergy, I do understand the complaint about the needs of a few being imposed on many. The fact is, however, there are very few nut-free schools! What you ordinarily find in schools these days are "allergy tables", sometimes more than one to accommodate the different allergies children have, not just peanut or nut allergy, though we do hear more about peanut and nut allergies. In addition, schools are beginning to offer gluten-free meals! Remember, public schools are obligated to male reasonable accommodations for everyone.

    It would be interesting to know how many people participating in this discussion actually have children in a nut-free elementary, middle, or high school.

    Jennifer B, www.foodallergybuzz.com

    Posted by Jennifer B March 20, 09 05:12 PM
  1. What ignorant people don't understand is the nut issue isn't like a political or religious preference. It's not like choosing between a 'holiday' tree or a Christmas tree, whether or not to celebrate Halloween or the debate between 'black' ice or 'invisibile' ice. When a child who is allergic to a tree nut or peanuts has an exposure, there is sometimes only minutes to act to get that child the proper medicine before they deteriorate quickly and pssoibly die. Also, in many cases the next allergic reaction is far worse and more dangerous than the previous. My daughter bit a walnut and her face blew up within a few minutes. Her vitals changed and slowed and we were fortunately enough to have an emergency room less than 5 minutes from my house. The ER doc called the reaction severe. So when people say we are overreacting.......my response is over the top and perhaps an over reaction too. I'd say my response is consistant with a dad who is protecting his child.....and it's not fit for print.

    Posted by michael-nh March 20, 09 06:55 PM
  1. I have 2 children w/life-threatening nut allergies. Both have have been rushed to the ER w/reactions. My youngest son had to spend a night in the hospital last year because of a severe reaction to a chocolate cookie that someone had put out at a family party. That being said, I am completely opposed to the concept of a nut-free school. It creates a completely false sense of security - for both the allergic children and the staff. Our kids cannot even bring in nut-free cookies or granola bars that have been processed in a facility that uses nuts. The school staff remains completely ignorant about allergies, reactions and triggers, all the while patting themselves on the back because they have created a "safe" environment for these kids.
    I have tried to instill a sense of personal responsibility in my children. Their safety is their responsibility. They will move along to higher education and the work world and they need to be vigilent about their safety. The world can be a very dangerous place for people with food allergies. The earlier they learn this lesson, the safer they will be.

    Posted by Lisa C March 20, 09 07:11 PM
  1. Many of you are missing the point and have it completely backwards. Not giving PB to kids is NOT causing the reaction and conversely giving PB in small amounts isnt curing it is causing it. Pre-Processed foods and clean houses MAY indeed be the culprit to many of these severe childhood allergies. Women who ingest peanuts during pregnancy, those who breast feed and very young children who ingest foods produced in plants where "nuts" were processed potentially subject themselves to micro amounts of peanut proteins which in turn set up the potential for severe reactions a year or two later.
    http://www.diynetwork.com/diy/lh_general_info/article/0,2041,DIY_14040_2275609,00.html

    Posted by MrPeanut March 20, 09 09:23 PM
  1. The problem in schools and day cares is twofold. First, they ban the items from everyone's lunches instead of just banning swapping items. Total bans are only justified when there is imminent danger of death (a kid is present who will go into shock and need a hospital visit if they come in contact). Second, parents confuse sensitivity with allergy. Allergy means you get a major and unpleasant reaction. Reasonable to avoid that. But many are merely sensitive. I'm sensitive to shellfish--I eat shrimp because it's delicious even though it makes me dizzy and disoriented and my face gets red spots. But that's not an allergy, and neither is a skin reaction in response to a minute amount of a food item in a controlled test. Sensitivities should not be cause for banning certain foods anywhere.

    Posted by Old Poor Richard March 20, 09 09:35 PM
  1. While the Duke study holds promise for many children, they may actually have peanut sensitivities rather than allergies. People can often grow out of sensitivities, or develop these later on in life; allergies are generally life-long afflictions. By no means do I want to diminish sensitivities as they are also serious medical issues that need to be respected, but I'd say there is a difference. Sometimes tiny exposures to an allergen will build up a tolerance to it, as was seen in the study, but in other instances it builds up an intolerance and raises the risk of having a severe reaction, as happened to my father. Forty years of casual peanut exposures built to a massive anaphylactic episode (in Japan, of all places); his allergy most likely would not have diminished even if he had controlled exposures like in the study during childhood. Likewise, my egg allergy is severe and I have little to no chance of ever out growing it like most egg-allergic children (I am the only person the allergist has ever encountered who is allergic to both egg whites and yolks - most are just whites) but I lost my milk allergy by age 4. Thankfully I have not had an anaphylactic episode, but I pop Benadryl like candy and always have an Epi-Pen.

    Lisa C (#39) and others have it right when they say that people are ignorant when it comes to allergies. Most people I meet don't even realize it's possible to be allergic to eggs, let alone what eggs are in. I wish I had a nickel for every time someone asked me if I could have butter, or milk, or chicken when they learn of my allergy, or when they offer me mayonnaise and insist it's fine for me to eat. My sister (who was allergic to eggs until age 12) is now a behavior analyst in an elementary school where teachers are extremely aware of nut-free classrooms and the like, but there is vanilla almond lotion in the bathroom. People don't get it yet, so we who are knowledgeable have to educate. Ultimately, children with allergies need to be taught to be vigilant but not paranoid; when in doubt, don't eat it. I keep granola bars in my purse and school bag so I always have something to eat when I am away from home and I never go hungry. It's no fun to be allergic, but it's better than being dead.

    PS - In my college immunology class, we discussed the possibility that more children are becoming allergic because their immune systems are not being challenged enough in early childhood to common germs and dirt, as result of our Clorox-loving, indoor society. Their immune systems overreact and they develop food allergies. Also, in the US parasites are much less common than in Africa and Asia, and it is immunoglobin E (IgE) that is responsible for fighting off both parasitic infections and allergens. If you have no parasites to fight, IgE may find something else.

    So many excellent points -- thank you for posting them! -- LMA

    Posted by eddiepenguin March 20, 09 10:03 PM
  1. Great points everyone -- My question, what I can't get my head around is: What did we all do before all these restrictions were put in place? Were there more deaths as a result of being exposed to allergens? I honestly haven't researched it much, but I would be interested to know why there are so many allergies nowadays, and the emergency rates on schools that are nut fee v ones that are not. It seems disengenuous to cater to the minority - I have friends that are severely allergic to many food products, and they are armed with the proper medication and instruction should they inadvertently encounter their allergens. Is there a reason why parents are relegating the responsibility on the schools rather than on themselves Like just about everything else?

    Posted by Mommelise March 21, 09 09:52 AM
  1. To Margaret,

    My son has been severely nut allergic since he was an infant. We discovered this when he was tested for cow's milk allergy. I am a college educated working Mom, and let me assure you, my house is not now, nor has it ever been, scrubbed down with every anti-bacterial agent known to man. My son has been in daycare since he was three months old, and has been exposed to so many germs and common childhood illnesses the pediatricians assure me he has a very strong and well developed immune system. He plays outside every single day, and it is a wrestling match to get him to wash his hands after playing with our cats or the neighbor's dog. He hardly ever gets sick anymore (at the age of 5), because he has had so many colds, stomach viruses and the like. I resent your implication that cleaning-obsessed Moms have somehow contributed to the increase in these allergies.

    I hope that your children wash their hands after eating a PB&J sandwich at school, because if they touch a doorknob or other common surface with PB on their hands, and my son touches the same surface, my son could have a severe anaphalactyc reaction. I am not neurotic about the peanut allergy, but it is a fact of our lives. He once broke out in hives when he gave a good night kiss, at 8 pm, to someone who had eaten a peanut granola bar that morning.

    I am not an advocate for nut free schools. It is my responsibility as a parent to educate my child about his allergies, and how to avoid the triggers, but I wish parents of non-allergic children would show a little more empathy for those of us whose children are nut allergic.

    Posted by pattsgrrl March 21, 09 10:03 AM
  1. I've been against the nut free zones only for this reason: The knowledge that your child is in a nut-free zone may lower the guard of both the parents and the child, since it is assumed to be a safe area, even though the sources of possible contamination stretch far and wide. Precautions that one would have taken beforehand may no longer be taken.

    The reality is that your child needs to learn to grow up in a world full of nuts, so the nut-free zone isn't lending itself to teaching them the skills and actions they'll need throughout their lives to protect their own health. It is merely sheltering them from the dangers they’ll eventually have to face anyway.

    In response to Col and others who believe the same: making a school nut-free is completely unrealistic because the non-allergic children will bring in contamination from home. I mean, does anybody proposing this nut-free thing actually think through what that would require? Or are they just throwing out the term nut-free because it makes them feel comfortable, regardless of how unsafe a “nut-free” school could actually be?

    If a child has any sort of nuts in their breakfast, they could potentially bring lethal traces of nuts into the nut-free school by simply forgetting to wash their hands. There’s never a way to absolutely guarantee that a nut-free school is actually nut-free without imposing an ordinance banning the consumption of nut products for all children who attend a nut-free school. Even then, there’s still the risk of cross-contamination.

    How far are people willing to go for this? It’s the overly-protective attitude of the latest generation of parents who think it’s perfectly reasonable to ban nut products for everybody. I understand that it’s your child, and as a good parent, you should be concerned about your child’s health. But the prospect of a nut-free zone is fundamentally unrealistic. I think it is merely a label that parents push for because the label itself provides the illusion of safety. If anything, it will put people’s guard down.

    Posted by Steven March 21, 09 11:58 AM
  1. Okay, can I inject some humor here? My husband had an allergic reaction to a medication while at the hospital. My three-year-old son and I visited him, and then I was trying to explain the allergy thing to him. I said that some people are allergic to peanuts, some to strawberries, eggs, chocolate, etc., but he didn't understand. Then I remembered a friend who can't visit us b/c of our cat. I said, "Lots of people are allergic to cats." My son replied, "Really, Mom? I didn't even know that people ATE cats!"

    Posted by Sasha March 21, 09 03:23 PM
  1. people have been allergic to nuts for centuries. why is it suddenly a big deal? How many of you went thru schools and never knew of any one in your classes with nut allergy? I seriously think it's all the sterilization that that parents today are doing to their kids. My kids have allergies, and when you expose them to the allergen, overtime, they build up a resistance. Keep them away from it, they are allergic for life.
    When you go for allergy shots, that's what a doctor does. They expose your body to the allergen and you build up a resistance.

    Posted by mr peanuts March 21, 09 09:11 PM
  1. Just an FYI for all the nay-sayers who have commented... severe foof allergies are being considered as a "handicap" and are protected by law. Under a Section 504 plan, reasonable accomodation must be made for a student, who has the handicap. There is more to be discussed on the topic, but life threatening allergies are part of reality now.

    Posted by Stellar March 22, 09 04:10 PM
  1. Our entire SCHOOL SYSTEM (yes, in Massachusetts) is nut free, which I find absurd. I can live with the nut free elementary schools, although I think it is overkill and that in most cases a nut free classroom and/or lunch table would do. Younger kids need the supervision, but at what point do we let them be responsible for themselves? Are they going to expect nut free workplaces? Nut free grocery stores? Nut free Target and Wal-Mart?
    I understand that nut allergies are more common now, why is up for debate, although I tend to agree with the theory that kids don't get their "peck of dirt" now and that things are much too "clean" and "antibacterial." I ate a peanut butter sandwich pretty much every day of my elementary school life, which wasn't too long ago, and never harmed anyone.

    Posted by finny March 22, 09 05:33 PM
  1. Nuts are essential to a healthy diet, especially in rough economic times. What about the health and well being of the other students? I think it is reasonable to accommodate an individual student with an identified severe nut allergy, at least until the child and their classmates are old enough to understand the risks. But in older grades I don't see a problem. Some risks must be balanced against other risks. There is no such thing as safe.

    Posted by Pat March 22, 09 06:52 PM
  1. Hi Finny, as a parent of a child with severe allergies to peanuts and tree nuts I can tell you that Massachusetts school system is certainly NOT nut free. Most schools do, finally, have nut free tables - that is about it.

    The most humane approach I have seen is having a "nut table." Children who bring nuts or food with nuts to school must sit there instead of, yet again, singling out the kids with allergies.

    One of the issues rarely mentioned is the psychological affect that the allergens have on some children with allergies. Experience anaphylaxis a few times before you turn 6 and you end up with ptsd. Have a party in the classroom where people bring foods that your child is allergic to and spend the next month trying to convince them it is safe to go back to school.

    Sadly most schools only go nut free after a child dies. Should schools be nut free zones - the answer depends on whether you put the lives and needs of children first or not. In Toronto one child died, every school went nut free. In the US we still debate. Which country would you want your child to grow up in?

    Posted by Michael March 22, 09 10:23 PM
  1. This study aside, i find the ban on peanuts utterly ridiculous. For the 1, maybe two kids in an ENTIRE school to ruin lunches and take options away from other children completely unfair. If your kid is that allergic to peanuts, then you need to make sure there's an epi pen on hand, teach YOUR child not to eat the lunches of other kids, or homeschool them. To make the majority bend to the very, very minority is unfair, discriminatory and plain alarmist. What if someone's kid is a super picky eater? They all go through that phase...so what if a good ol' PBJ is all the kid will eat? So, that child is going to have to suffer because YOUR kid has the problem? I don't think so. Keep your kid at home, or teach HIM how to be responsible.

    Posted by Cathy March 22, 09 10:28 PM
  1. We are vegetarians. There are some kids who are allergic to soy, nuts, dairy, eggs, wheat - basically our entire diet. I will find nut free snacks for the classroom, as requested. But my kid will not go hungry on the off chance that your kid will have a severe reaction. I will hammer into my kids the importance of not sharing lunches, and of staying away from the nut free table. But I agree that 'nut-free' creates a false sense of security, and that the needs of the many must be considered.

    Posted by BMS March 23, 09 02:19 PM
  1. FREE THE PEANUTS!

    In all seriousness, peanuts and cashews aren't even good for you. Stick to almonds, brazil nuts, and walnuts if you must have nuts. Read up on the paleo diet - eat tree nuts if you must have them.

    Posted by FJ March 23, 09 03:17 PM
  1. Another thought I had: even if it is considered a disability, we can accommodate disability without banning something for every other kid. I mean, do we ban stairs because of 1 kid in a wheelchair?

    Posted by BMS March 26, 09 11:31 AM
  1. RE: The girl who died after kissing her boyfriend...

    The boyfriend actually only ate peanut butter on toast nine hours before the kiss, and peanut traces do not remain within your system after more than one hour. What actually happened is that they were smoking marijuana at a party and she died from a severe asthma reaction.

    http://www.salon.com/env/vital_signs/2009/02/05/peanut_allergy/print.html

    This article makes some interesting points about the whole situation.


    Posted by EMB April 5, 09 09:17 PM
  1. I consider, that you commit an error. Write to me in PM, we will communicate.

    Posted by Porfirio June 8, 13 03:22 AM
 
59 comments so far...
  1. If schools that aren't nut free are improving the situation, than why has it been getting progressively worse over the last decade? Nut-Free schools are a recent phenomenon - they were unheard of when the rise in peanut allergies started, they weren't necessary. This oral immunotherapy that has cured a few children is done over a 2 year period, and initial doses are given in the hospital - and every time the dose is increased it's given in the hospital. Classrooms aren't comparable unless they are staffed with emergency medical personnel and life saving equipment. JMO, but I believe all schools through 6th or 8th grade should be nut free.

    Posted by Lisa March 20, 09 03:30 AM
  1. I have a child with a life-threatening allergy to peanuts. I also publish Food Allergy Buzz (www.foodallergybuzz.com), a blog where I share information on food allergy friendly products, businesses and resources. While it may that something about our lifestyles over the last 100 years or so that has caused the increasing numbers of peanut allergic children, it certainly isn't the peanut/nut-free zones or classes or schools. Nut-free zones are a very recent phenomenon and exist as a response to the severe allergies some children have. I also would like to point out that there are not very many nut-free elementary, middle or high schools in Massachusetts. Nut-free preschools are more common, and for good reason, very young children tend to put everything and anything in their mouths! For some peanut/nut allergic individuals, accidentally ingesting peanuts or nuts could be fatal, and unfortunately, there is no way to predict anaphylactic reactions.

    Posted by Jennifer B March 20, 09 07:46 AM
  1. The false analogy between desensitizing treatment for allergies and homeopathy is discussed here:
    http://www.theness.com/neurologicablog/?s=allergy+shots

    The linked article focuses on allergy shots rather than the oral tolerance route but the principle is the same

    Posted by Claire O'B March 20, 09 08:40 AM
  1. Lylah,

    There is a tremendous range of reactivity to various allergens, and even a microscopic trace of peanuts or tree nuts -- moreso than most other allergens -- can cause a catastrophic reaction in a very allergic child. While I too have been following the Duke studies with interest, as my son is anaphylactic to milk and milk protein (and is one of the very lucky few who actually just outgrew his peanut allergy at age 5 - which is very unusual), those studies are done in a very controlled environment. I hardly think that schools are the place to be testing out whether microscopic exposure is beneficial, especially when it comes to peanuts and tree nuts!

    My son reacts on contact with milk. Am I going to ask the school to be milk-free? no, because it can be managed through careful supervision (milk cannot get airborne and wipes away pretty easily). But even though my son is no longer allergic to peanuts, I will still stick with soynut butter as a matter of courtesy to those children who have the allergy.

    If you want to experiment with exposing your child to small amounts of gluten . . go for it! We did that with egg, and it worked out fine. But I'd recommend doing so under the supervision of an alelrgist.

    Posted by CMT March 20, 09 08:48 AM
  1. Lylah,

    Homeopathy uses active substances that are so diluted that it's likely you have NO active compound intake. The next scientific study that proves that homeopathy works will be the first I see...

    The study on overcoming allergies by starting with very small (but measurable) doses of the allergen and working the dosage up is very promising, and it is a proper scientific study opening the door to hope that some of the worst allergies can be cured or at least controlled.

    So, to answer your question, there is NO connection between homeopathy and the study you refer to, but it is a very promising study that incidentally confirms that by overprotecting our children from exposure to potential allergens we might be making the situation worse, at least for some kids.

    One more thing - please do not try this at home. The doses taken by the kids in the study were VERY small to start with, increased at a slow pace and the children were under close medical supervision throughout. A DIY approach to this can seriously endanger your child... wait until the research is closer to being applicable on a large scale and definitely talk to your doctor about this.

    Posted by HBX March 20, 09 08:52 AM
  1. Ditto the comments above: truly "nut free" schools are a very recent phenomenon. When my 14 year old went through pre-k and elementary schools, "nut free" was never discussed. My current 9 year old attended a pre-school school where they had a "nut free" *table* (not a nut free school), and his elementary is not nut free in any way. So the trend is not widespread, and it is new. Therefore I find it stretches credulity to suggest that nut-free zones have anything to do with worsening allegeries; the increase in allergies has been on-going for over a decade. It's also important to note the very controlled conditions the kids in the study learned to tolerate nuts: microscopic doses, under the care of and monitored by doctors.

    Posted by j-len March 20, 09 09:03 AM
  1. It is just not worth the risk!!!!

    There is no evidence that uncontrolled exposures can treat food allergies. Too many kids are so sensitive in their allergies that anaphylactic shock would be a daily risk. In some cases, these children have stopped breathing and nearly died during early exposures. I know of a couple of those cases. Luckily my kids are fine, but I have friends who have to control every potential exposure of their children and it is truly a burden. The threat is as real as a loaded gun.

    I understand the spirit that you write this in, but please let science work this out and don't suggest irresponsibly risky policies. There are still those who think food allergies mean sniffles and runny noses! Do not provide fodder for the ignorant!!

    Posted by Annette F March 20, 09 09:39 AM
  1. We thought we understood allergies and autoimmune disorders. Problem is, we don't, not fully. Immunology is still in its infancy. It'll take large, long-term, randomized, placebo-controlled studies to get this sorted out.

    Posted by Columbine March 20, 09 09:40 AM
  1. I really hope that people don't read just this headline and assume that it's ok now to bring peanut butter to their child's preschool. I think that this headline should be edited, given that these allergies are life-threatening and some parents see "nut-free" as an imposition.

    Thanks, Concerned. I'm going to give readers a little more credit than that, though, and assume that when they see a question in a headline on a blog post that they don't mistake it for a statement of fact. What I'm wondering about is whether preventing kids who are NOT anaphalactic from being around certain allergens is less beneficial than we've assumed. The post clearly says that I agree that allergies can be life-threatening, and that my own kids have food allergies, so I'm definitely in the "keep our kids safe" camp here. -- LMA . -- LMA

    Posted by ConcernedWithNutAllergicChild March 20, 09 09:43 AM
  1. My nephew nearly died on an ER table when he was a toddler - after having a peanut butter sandwich. Until that point, no one knew he was allergic. My brother, his father, however, is allergic to many things and has been since he was a toddler himself - so my nephew's allergy was not surprising. His reaction to peanuts, however, put the fear of God in my brother and his wife and for the next few years, he touched nothing with nuts.

    Now, after testing and introducing nut contaminated food back into his diet, his allergy has slowly but surely gone away. He went from not being able to be around the food item to being just fine.

    Their problem? He's been so scared of nuts by his teachers and other family members consistently telling him that they'll kill him, that he won't willingly eat them. The food therapy has been done on the sly.

    So, no, I don't think that peanut free classrooms or schools are hurting the allergy issue itself, but I believe that the culture of panic that succeeded in implementing these policies is.

    As an additonal note, my best friend was anaphylactic when it came to any nuts. Even being in the same room where nuts had been prepared would cause a reaction. For years, she avoided all contact with all nuts as peanuts, walnuts, pine nuts all caused the same reaction. But then she took it upon herself to start exposing herself to more nuts and areas with nuts and her allergy has diminished significantly. She is still anaphylactic if she ingests a certain quantity of nuts, but her allergy is nowhere near the level it once was.

    The reason that she decided to do this was that she was tired of the culture of panic and being a scientist herself, began reading studies on this matter. She conferred with her doctor and began her own road of therapy. It didn't take long to see results and she can eat out far more often now than she ever could before.

    I do think that knee jerk reactions like banning all nuts in a school because one student has an allergy are a huge part of our problem. But I'm very interested to understand better WHY this upturn in allergic reactions is happening at all - and that includes gluten.


    Posted by phe March 20, 09 09:45 AM
  1. I think if a child who is allergic to nut (and definately anaphylactic) it should be the parent's decision to expose to the child to the allergen and it should be while the child is under the supervision of a doctor and parents. I do not believe that introducing nuts at school where so many things could go wrong, is the answer. What happens if the child is anaphylactic or has a worse reaction than normal and happens to be alone in a bathroom at the time. Nevermind the embarassment factor for a child to have a severe reaction in front of a large group of peers. If my child had a nut allergy I would not be okay with him being casually exposed to nuts at school! School is stressful enough for parents and kids without adding this worry to it. I don't think schools on the whole should nessesarily be nut-free...but if a child at the school has known severe reactions then the school either needs to consider being nut-free or have a program in place to reduce the child's daily risk without singling him/her out from the other kids. Children with severe reactions should also carry an epi-pen.

    Posted by wolfeyes March 20, 09 09:48 AM
  1. I'm curios why the nut allergies are so present here in the U.S. but in other countries such as Africa or Thailand they are unheard of? I do not dispute they are real, I just think the cause of allergies is slightly more important than what perpetuates them, but both are important.

    Posted by itsme March 20, 09 09:54 AM
  1. Sorry, but I think that taking the promise of the recent study and jumping to the conclusion that nut-free scenarios are bad is completely inane. This kind of speculation only provides fuel for the people who resent my kid for having a nut allergy in the first place.

    Thanks for commenting, tiesl, but I'm not jumping to a conclusion at all. I'm wondering if preventing kids who are not anaphalactic from being around certain allergens (in my kids' case, gluten) is less beneficial than we've assumed. I never said that nut-free scenarios are bad -- on the contrary, they make sense if a person is severely allergic. -- LMA

    Posted by tiesl March 20, 09 10:11 AM
  1. Free-association in such a forum can be dangerous. Earlier posts have correctly pointed out the difference between homeopathy and medical treatments as well as the supervised setting for desensitization to nut and other allergies. Nut-free schools offer a safety net for kids who would otherwise enter life-thereatening situations daily in the lunchroom. I recall a news item a few years back where a nut-allergic girl died after kissing her boyfriend who ate a peanut butter sandwich. It's that serious.

    Your free association may make interesting cocktail party conversation but it should not be published under the heading of "parenting news and advice".

    Scientific data can and will hold up to scrutiny and I am not complaining that you are questioning science - it's just that you do not have your facts straight. I sure hope no one reads this and decides to challenge a nut-allergic kid in a school cafeteria...

    Posted by InMyOpinion March 20, 09 10:15 AM
  1. This was in the news a couple years ago. I forwarded it to a friend that has a child with a severe nut allergy.

    The two elementary schools my kids have attended have had nut free tables, not a nut free school. So I continue to send in PB&J sandwiches and peanut butter granola bars, they are my kids favorites. If the school isn't nut free, I'm not going to change my behavior.

    And homeopathy? That is pure quackery.

    I firmly believe there a connection between the rise of food allergies and the super-clean, "cleanliness is next to godliness", American lifestyle that has arisen in the last 20-30 years. Combine that with the college educated stay at home Mom who desires the hermetically sealed house scrubed with every anti-bacterial agent marketed to them, kids who don't play outside for the whole day, but instead are driven from structured activity to structured activity and you have an immune systems that are undertaxed.

    I've never once stopped any of my kids from eating food they dropped on the floor!

    One of my friends has a child who is severly allergic to all tree nuts; he goes to a school that isn't "nut free" but does have a "nut-free table" at lunch. Any other parents in a similar situation? Does it worry you, or do you think a nut-free table is enough? -- LMA

    Posted by Margaret March 20, 09 10:28 AM
  1. Five words: Don't. Try. This. At. Home.

    Exactly! -- LMA

    Posted by geocool March 20, 09 11:06 AM
  1. Nut-free schools, classrooms, or tables DO NOT cause or exacerbate allergies! Young children are too young to police their own food intake or understand that it is potentially dangerous to share food with an allergic classmate. You are doing a grave disservice to severely allergic children to suggest that nut restrictions in school are making their conditions worse. There is already enough resentment among parents who cannot send their kids to school with peanut butter sandwiches. Until treatments are available for nut allergies and there is a better understanding of allergies and early exposure to nuts (or lack thereof), restrictions at schools are a necessity to protect children. Period.

    Posted by EpiPen Mom March 20, 09 11:07 AM
  1. My daughter is allergic to cashews and she had to go to emergency rooms three time because unknowingly ate less than one half of a cashew each time - her mouth and tongue were swollen up.

    Food allergy is real and can be life threatening. Please do not give out impression that it is ok to eliminate the nut-free zones!

    Sorry that's the impression you got, Bob. That's not what I'm saying at all. -- LMA

    Posted by bob March 20, 09 12:06 PM
  1. Just wondering what happens when mom and dad take junior out to a restaurant, a mall, or a park somewhere. Are those places made peanut-free? How about to church, or to scouts or at the grocery store? Should we make those peanut free as well?

    These days, schools are such oppressive, intolerant places. No nuts. No smoking. No candy. No soda. No cookies. No homebaked products.

    I'm so glad that I don't have to tolerate these places anymore.


    Posted by Martha Raddson March 20, 09 01:30 PM
  1. My family is lucky in that no one has any allergy to anything. However, when my kids started school they had a couple of classmates with severe nut allergies, and we were asked not to send PBJs, a staple up until that point. It was a small price to pay for safety. When it comes to this kind of issue, my motto is "imagine the shoe on the other foot."

    Posted by Sasha March 20, 09 01:31 PM
  1. How can you compare "nut free zones" in schools to recent study at Duke? Did you actually read the information about the study? The amount used to build up the tolerance was miniscule and conducted in a setting equipped to handle the possible anaphalactic aftermath. To suggest that children could build up their immunity to peanuts in schools while risking their lives is an extremely ignorant and dangerous suggestion. I am glad that your children do not have anaphalctic allergies and you do not have to worry that they may die if they have contact with an allergen, but avoiding peanuts and nuts is certainly not a "cinch" as you put it.
    To suggest in a forum such as this that nut-free zones may be unnecessary is so dangerous.
    GET INFORMED AND GET A CLUE!!!!

    Thanks, nut-free mom, but the last line of your comment was unncessary. At any rate... if you re-read my post, you'll see that I'm not suggesting anything like what you describe. Also: Avoiding sending my non-allergic children to school with nuts is a cinch, for me, compared to avoiding all gluten and all caesin for my children who do have allergies, which I've been doing for more than 5 years now. The fact that I don't have a hard time with it isn't a reflection on your experiences or capabilities. -- LMA

    Posted by nut-free mom March 20, 09 01:51 PM
  1. @Martha Raddson Actually, yes, "Junior" is very much at risk going to scouts, church, etc. Anaphylaxis can kill.

    Posted by Kate March 20, 09 02:04 PM
  1. Lylah, I think your article is very interesting. I'm sorry that some of the commentators have been unable to actually READ IT and have jumped to conclusions. I know the two are completely different, but it reminds me of the phenomenon of "super germs" being created as a result of the anti-bacterial craze. I agree with the poster who said it's equally as important to figure out why food allergens have become so prevalent over the past five to ten years.

    Thank you, Gretchen! I've been thinking about the anti-bacterial/super germ issue, too... -- LMA

    Posted by Gretchen Weiners March 20, 09 02:18 PM
  1. This is a tough topic. I was one of those parents who got annoyed at nut-free, gluten free, peanut free environments. It all seemed over the top...then my 5 yo had a severe reaction to a walnut. We carry epi-pens everywhere and read labels. Could exposing her to trace amounts of tree nuts get rid of the allergy??? Sure it could. Do I want to expose my child to something intentionally that could kill her within minutes??? NOPE. It's scarey to know that a little walnut could kill my baby in minutes without proper emergent medical care. Oddly enough, no allergy to peanuts, just tree nuts....scarey stuff.

    Posted by michael-NH March 20, 09 02:20 PM
  1. I understand what the author is trying to say, but I think there is no interesting theory here at all. Its an unscientific opinion that is bringing up a "debate" that really means nothing. To be honest I wish my daughter's daycare was nut free, as we don't want her to try peanuts until age 3 or 4 (my husband has a very severe reaction to seafood.) I'd really rather not carry an epi-pen and an epi-pen Jr. around.
    Nut free classrooms are not the problem. This article, while good-intentioned, does nothing but make meaningless hype, in my humble opinion.....

    Posted by veggirl March 20, 09 02:21 PM
  1. No one knows for sure, but science thinks that the usage of peanut oil as a ubiquitous and inexpensive binding agent within the last 75 years in all areas of the food industry has contributed to the increase in allergies.

    Two of my daughters are allergic to peanuts. They have Benadryl handy for a mild reaction, and an epipen in the event of a strong reaction, the latter of which thankfully they have never had to use. Vigilance is the key; friend's birthday parties are worrisome, and Halloween is downright frightening. I ate peanut butter all my life without issue, but noticed when I turned 40, I now get itchy when I eat anything with nuts, and there's no doubt about the cause and effect. We welcome any good news about regarding a potential cure or solution to this.

    Posted by cheesewhiz March 20, 09 02:33 PM
  1. The reason you are seeing such high peanut allergy, because parents are waiting to give there kids peanut butter until they are 3 and 4 years old. They don't get immune to it the peanuts so, now you are seeing more kids allergic to peanuts.

    Posted by HINGS March 20, 09 02:39 PM
  1. No, I don't think making schools nut-free is somehow harming children who are not otherwise allergic. After all, they actually don't spend the majority of their time at school. They can eat all the nuts they want at home.

    My own HOME is nut-free due to my son's allergy. Should we suddenly start keeping nuts around so the new baby can get some exposure? Not a chance.

    Posted by Col March 20, 09 02:41 PM
  1. Why are peanut and tree nut allergies common now? When I was growing up ('60s-70s) there were zero kids in the school (over 1000 kids) with peanut allergy.
    What the heck happened?

    Posted by Mystified March 20, 09 03:22 PM
  1. I dont know what you eat where peanut oil is a binder for foods....but if you believe that then eat more whole foods, less prepackaged junk, understand what you are consuming and what the words on the labels mean.

    It's worth noting that if peanut oil (or any other potential food allergen) is used in a non-food product (like medicine, or cosmetics, or toothpaste) the manufacturers aren't legally obligated to disclose it as an ingredient. -- LMA

    Posted by freerocks March 20, 09 03:28 PM
  1. Thanks for the article... and for putting your sanity at question. I've wondered the same thing over the years. My sisters and I all are all celiac and my son is allergic to oats, wheat, eggs, and bananas.

    My other concern is... why are schools so hip on the nut thing but don't seem to give a crap about any of the other items that are common (or uncommon) allergens? While at school, my son has had A-shock from eggs and vomitting & diarrhea from exposure to the other items. His school still allows all the items that are potentially life threatening to him.

    We've been told (by both his day care and his current school) that his choice / our alternatives are to eat at a table by himself... or with others with similar allergies. That's a lovely accomodation when compared to students who have nut allergies and get an entire school free of a food my son CAN have.

    Thanks for commenting, WonderingY. You make an excellent point about other allergies. I think a lot of people with Celiac have an even harder time when it comes to things like this, because their reactions to gluten aren't necessarily visible to others and so people tend to discount the seriousness of the disease. -- LMA

    Posted by WonderingY March 20, 09 03:57 PM
  1. why are all the parents of nut allergy children complete wackjobs? chill out, people...

    I was tempted not to let this comment go through, but where would free speech be if I did that? So I'm hitting publish, but I'm adding a comment of my own: If you haven't had to deal with the dangers of life-threatening allergies in your own children, count your blessings. And don't judge. -- LMA

    Posted by Don't have a kid allergic to nuts March 20, 09 04:00 PM
  1. Being a little jerky here, but where does it end? Do we ban ALL food? Sorry, but realistically, if we ban wheat, all nuts, most fruit, all dairy, seafood (tuna) etc. What is left?

    That's not jerky, CB... "Where does it end?" is a really good question. -- LMA

    Posted by CB March 20, 09 04:12 PM
  1. RE: nut allergies, maybe it's not the kids so much as the nuts themselves. Are we feeding our kids the same genetic nut varieties in this country as in Africa and Asia, or are they genetically modified nuts, whose non-natural-arising proteins are not properly treated by some immune systems.? I've also heard that in this country most nuts and nut-products are dry-roasted, which can change something in the nuts to make them more allergenic, whereas in Africa/Asia the nuts are fried or boiled, and that is a less allergenic process. Just curious if anyone knows more.

    Posted by bad_kitty March 20, 09 04:15 PM
  1. I'm not sure what's new about the Duke method. I had allergen therapy in the 1960s. Twice a year I'd go to the allergist to get shots just under my skin to find out that I was allergic to just about everything (chocolate, corn-on-the-cob [we could never figure out if that meant I could eat it if it was off the cob], as well as the usual pollen, dust and dander) and once a week the pediatrician would inject me with that stuff. I don't know if it worked, but I had a permanent stuffed and runny nose, and still talk nasally. Then we moved out of a roach-infested tenement that was downwind from refineries, into a high-rise. I think I stopped going for allergy shots because it was too far to travel, but I wasn't going through two handkerchiefs a day any more.

    Thanks for commenting, Fishwood! It's good to hear from someone who's been there...-- LMA

    Posted by Fishwood March 20, 09 04:28 PM
  1. Surely a precious child must be allergic to hydrogen - ban water from our schools now!

    Posted by BWFOS March 20, 09 04:39 PM
  1. Related to freerocks comment that one should eat more whole foods and less prepackaged junk. I agree. However, my daughter's Montessori school (pre-K-8) helped grow organic foods and encouraged homemade, whole-grain goodness at the holiday gatherings. UNTIL they went nut-free. Then, we were barred from bringing in homemade treats and only foods that were pre-packaged with labels were allowed. I've read some of those labels--they didn't list nuts, but they sure did list a bunch of other ingredients I wouldn't want my kid to eat. I'm not against nut-free for the younger kids, but as with everything, there are trade-offs.

    Posted by kiki322 March 20, 09 04:46 PM
  1. Most companies will disclose ingredients used in non food products upon request.

    Also, a simple Google search results in many fabulous resources as well here are some samples:

    http://allergicgirl.blogspot.com/2007/07/cosmetic-allergies.html
    http://www.itsnutfree.com/press/kirstydiary.phphttp://peanutfree.blogspot.com/2008/06/is-there-peanut-in-that-polish.html


    Posted by freerocks March 20, 09 04:47 PM
  1. I have to pipe up again. A lot of controversy is always generated about the idea of nut-free schools. Even though I have a child with life threatening peanut allergy, I do understand the complaint about the needs of a few being imposed on many. The fact is, however, there are very few nut-free schools! What you ordinarily find in schools these days are "allergy tables", sometimes more than one to accommodate the different allergies children have, not just peanut or nut allergy, though we do hear more about peanut and nut allergies. In addition, schools are beginning to offer gluten-free meals! Remember, public schools are obligated to male reasonable accommodations for everyone.

    It would be interesting to know how many people participating in this discussion actually have children in a nut-free elementary, middle, or high school.

    Jennifer B, www.foodallergybuzz.com

    Posted by Jennifer B March 20, 09 05:12 PM
  1. What ignorant people don't understand is the nut issue isn't like a political or religious preference. It's not like choosing between a 'holiday' tree or a Christmas tree, whether or not to celebrate Halloween or the debate between 'black' ice or 'invisibile' ice. When a child who is allergic to a tree nut or peanuts has an exposure, there is sometimes only minutes to act to get that child the proper medicine before they deteriorate quickly and pssoibly die. Also, in many cases the next allergic reaction is far worse and more dangerous than the previous. My daughter bit a walnut and her face blew up within a few minutes. Her vitals changed and slowed and we were fortunately enough to have an emergency room less than 5 minutes from my house. The ER doc called the reaction severe. So when people say we are overreacting.......my response is over the top and perhaps an over reaction too. I'd say my response is consistant with a dad who is protecting his child.....and it's not fit for print.

    Posted by michael-nh March 20, 09 06:55 PM
  1. I have 2 children w/life-threatening nut allergies. Both have have been rushed to the ER w/reactions. My youngest son had to spend a night in the hospital last year because of a severe reaction to a chocolate cookie that someone had put out at a family party. That being said, I am completely opposed to the concept of a nut-free school. It creates a completely false sense of security - for both the allergic children and the staff. Our kids cannot even bring in nut-free cookies or granola bars that have been processed in a facility that uses nuts. The school staff remains completely ignorant about allergies, reactions and triggers, all the while patting themselves on the back because they have created a "safe" environment for these kids.
    I have tried to instill a sense of personal responsibility in my children. Their safety is their responsibility. They will move along to higher education and the work world and they need to be vigilent about their safety. The world can be a very dangerous place for people with food allergies. The earlier they learn this lesson, the safer they will be.

    Posted by Lisa C March 20, 09 07:11 PM
  1. Many of you are missing the point and have it completely backwards. Not giving PB to kids is NOT causing the reaction and conversely giving PB in small amounts isnt curing it is causing it. Pre-Processed foods and clean houses MAY indeed be the culprit to many of these severe childhood allergies. Women who ingest peanuts during pregnancy, those who breast feed and very young children who ingest foods produced in plants where "nuts" were processed potentially subject themselves to micro amounts of peanut proteins which in turn set up the potential for severe reactions a year or two later.
    http://www.diynetwork.com/diy/lh_general_info/article/0,2041,DIY_14040_2275609,00.html

    Posted by MrPeanut March 20, 09 09:23 PM
  1. The problem in schools and day cares is twofold. First, they ban the items from everyone's lunches instead of just banning swapping items. Total bans are only justified when there is imminent danger of death (a kid is present who will go into shock and need a hospital visit if they come in contact). Second, parents confuse sensitivity with allergy. Allergy means you get a major and unpleasant reaction. Reasonable to avoid that. But many are merely sensitive. I'm sensitive to shellfish--I eat shrimp because it's delicious even though it makes me dizzy and disoriented and my face gets red spots. But that's not an allergy, and neither is a skin reaction in response to a minute amount of a food item in a controlled test. Sensitivities should not be cause for banning certain foods anywhere.

    Posted by Old Poor Richard March 20, 09 09:35 PM
  1. While the Duke study holds promise for many children, they may actually have peanut sensitivities rather than allergies. People can often grow out of sensitivities, or develop these later on in life; allergies are generally life-long afflictions. By no means do I want to diminish sensitivities as they are also serious medical issues that need to be respected, but I'd say there is a difference. Sometimes tiny exposures to an allergen will build up a tolerance to it, as was seen in the study, but in other instances it builds up an intolerance and raises the risk of having a severe reaction, as happened to my father. Forty years of casual peanut exposures built to a massive anaphylactic episode (in Japan, of all places); his allergy most likely would not have diminished even if he had controlled exposures like in the study during childhood. Likewise, my egg allergy is severe and I have little to no chance of ever out growing it like most egg-allergic children (I am the only person the allergist has ever encountered who is allergic to both egg whites and yolks - most are just whites) but I lost my milk allergy by age 4. Thankfully I have not had an anaphylactic episode, but I pop Benadryl like candy and always have an Epi-Pen.

    Lisa C (#39) and others have it right when they say that people are ignorant when it comes to allergies. Most people I meet don't even realize it's possible to be allergic to eggs, let alone what eggs are in. I wish I had a nickel for every time someone asked me if I could have butter, or milk, or chicken when they learn of my allergy, or when they offer me mayonnaise and insist it's fine for me to eat. My sister (who was allergic to eggs until age 12) is now a behavior analyst in an elementary school where teachers are extremely aware of nut-free classrooms and the like, but there is vanilla almond lotion in the bathroom. People don't get it yet, so we who are knowledgeable have to educate. Ultimately, children with allergies need to be taught to be vigilant but not paranoid; when in doubt, don't eat it. I keep granola bars in my purse and school bag so I always have something to eat when I am away from home and I never go hungry. It's no fun to be allergic, but it's better than being dead.

    PS - In my college immunology class, we discussed the possibility that more children are becoming allergic because their immune systems are not being challenged enough in early childhood to common germs and dirt, as result of our Clorox-loving, indoor society. Their immune systems overreact and they develop food allergies. Also, in the US parasites are much less common than in Africa and Asia, and it is immunoglobin E (IgE) that is responsible for fighting off both parasitic infections and allergens. If you have no parasites to fight, IgE may find something else.

    So many excellent points -- thank you for posting them! -- LMA

    Posted by eddiepenguin March 20, 09 10:03 PM
  1. Great points everyone -- My question, what I can't get my head around is: What did we all do before all these restrictions were put in place? Were there more deaths as a result of being exposed to allergens? I honestly haven't researched it much, but I would be interested to know why there are so many allergies nowadays, and the emergency rates on schools that are nut fee v ones that are not. It seems disengenuous to cater to the minority - I have friends that are severely allergic to many food products, and they are armed with the proper medication and instruction should they inadvertently encounter their allergens. Is there a reason why parents are relegating the responsibility on the schools rather than on themselves Like just about everything else?

    Posted by Mommelise March 21, 09 09:52 AM
  1. To Margaret,

    My son has been severely nut allergic since he was an infant. We discovered this when he was tested for cow's milk allergy. I am a college educated working Mom, and let me assure you, my house is not now, nor has it ever been, scrubbed down with every anti-bacterial agent known to man. My son has been in daycare since he was three months old, and has been exposed to so many germs and common childhood illnesses the pediatricians assure me he has a very strong and well developed immune system. He plays outside every single day, and it is a wrestling match to get him to wash his hands after playing with our cats or the neighbor's dog. He hardly ever gets sick anymore (at the age of 5), because he has had so many colds, stomach viruses and the like. I resent your implication that cleaning-obsessed Moms have somehow contributed to the increase in these allergies.

    I hope that your children wash their hands after eating a PB&J sandwich at school, because if they touch a doorknob or other common surface with PB on their hands, and my son touches the same surface, my son could have a severe anaphalactyc reaction. I am not neurotic about the peanut allergy, but it is a fact of our lives. He once broke out in hives when he gave a good night kiss, at 8 pm, to someone who had eaten a peanut granola bar that morning.

    I am not an advocate for nut free schools. It is my responsibility as a parent to educate my child about his allergies, and how to avoid the triggers, but I wish parents of non-allergic children would show a little more empathy for those of us whose children are nut allergic.

    Posted by pattsgrrl March 21, 09 10:03 AM
  1. I've been against the nut free zones only for this reason: The knowledge that your child is in a nut-free zone may lower the guard of both the parents and the child, since it is assumed to be a safe area, even though the sources of possible contamination stretch far and wide. Precautions that one would have taken beforehand may no longer be taken.

    The reality is that your child needs to learn to grow up in a world full of nuts, so the nut-free zone isn't lending itself to teaching them the skills and actions they'll need throughout their lives to protect their own health. It is merely sheltering them from the dangers they’ll eventually have to face anyway.

    In response to Col and others who believe the same: making a school nut-free is completely unrealistic because the non-allergic children will bring in contamination from home. I mean, does anybody proposing this nut-free thing actually think through what that would require? Or are they just throwing out the term nut-free because it makes them feel comfortable, regardless of how unsafe a “nut-free” school could actually be?

    If a child has any sort of nuts in their breakfast, they could potentially bring lethal traces of nuts into the nut-free school by simply forgetting to wash their hands. There’s never a way to absolutely guarantee that a nut-free school is actually nut-free without imposing an ordinance banning the consumption of nut products for all children who attend a nut-free school. Even then, there’s still the risk of cross-contamination.

    How far are people willing to go for this? It’s the overly-protective attitude of the latest generation of parents who think it’s perfectly reasonable to ban nut products for everybody. I understand that it’s your child, and as a good parent, you should be concerned about your child’s health. But the prospect of a nut-free zone is fundamentally unrealistic. I think it is merely a label that parents push for because the label itself provides the illusion of safety. If anything, it will put people’s guard down.

    Posted by Steven March 21, 09 11:58 AM
  1. Okay, can I inject some humor here? My husband had an allergic reaction to a medication while at the hospital. My three-year-old son and I visited him, and then I was trying to explain the allergy thing to him. I said that some people are allergic to peanuts, some to strawberries, eggs, chocolate, etc., but he didn't understand. Then I remembered a friend who can't visit us b/c of our cat. I said, "Lots of people are allergic to cats." My son replied, "Really, Mom? I didn't even know that people ATE cats!"

    Posted by Sasha March 21, 09 03:23 PM
  1. people have been allergic to nuts for centuries. why is it suddenly a big deal? How many of you went thru schools and never knew of any one in your classes with nut allergy? I seriously think it's all the sterilization that that parents today are doing to their kids. My kids have allergies, and when you expose them to the allergen, overtime, they build up a resistance. Keep them away from it, they are allergic for life.
    When you go for allergy shots, that's what a doctor does. They expose your body to the allergen and you build up a resistance.

    Posted by mr peanuts March 21, 09 09:11 PM
  1. Just an FYI for all the nay-sayers who have commented... severe foof allergies are being considered as a "handicap" and are protected by law. Under a Section 504 plan, reasonable accomodation must be made for a student, who has the handicap. There is more to be discussed on the topic, but life threatening allergies are part of reality now.

    Posted by Stellar March 22, 09 04:10 PM
  1. Our entire SCHOOL SYSTEM (yes, in Massachusetts) is nut free, which I find absurd. I can live with the nut free elementary schools, although I think it is overkill and that in most cases a nut free classroom and/or lunch table would do. Younger kids need the supervision, but at what point do we let them be responsible for themselves? Are they going to expect nut free workplaces? Nut free grocery stores? Nut free Target and Wal-Mart?
    I understand that nut allergies are more common now, why is up for debate, although I tend to agree with the theory that kids don't get their "peck of dirt" now and that things are much too "clean" and "antibacterial." I ate a peanut butter sandwich pretty much every day of my elementary school life, which wasn't too long ago, and never harmed anyone.

    Posted by finny March 22, 09 05:33 PM
  1. Nuts are essential to a healthy diet, especially in rough economic times. What about the health and well being of the other students? I think it is reasonable to accommodate an individual student with an identified severe nut allergy, at least until the child and their classmates are old enough to understand the risks. But in older grades I don't see a problem. Some risks must be balanced against other risks. There is no such thing as safe.

    Posted by Pat March 22, 09 06:52 PM
  1. Hi Finny, as a parent of a child with severe allergies to peanuts and tree nuts I can tell you that Massachusetts school system is certainly NOT nut free. Most schools do, finally, have nut free tables - that is about it.

    The most humane approach I have seen is having a "nut table." Children who bring nuts or food with nuts to school must sit there instead of, yet again, singling out the kids with allergies.

    One of the issues rarely mentioned is the psychological affect that the allergens have on some children with allergies. Experience anaphylaxis a few times before you turn 6 and you end up with ptsd. Have a party in the classroom where people bring foods that your child is allergic to and spend the next month trying to convince them it is safe to go back to school.

    Sadly most schools only go nut free after a child dies. Should schools be nut free zones - the answer depends on whether you put the lives and needs of children first or not. In Toronto one child died, every school went nut free. In the US we still debate. Which country would you want your child to grow up in?

    Posted by Michael March 22, 09 10:23 PM
  1. This study aside, i find the ban on peanuts utterly ridiculous. For the 1, maybe two kids in an ENTIRE school to ruin lunches and take options away from other children completely unfair. If your kid is that allergic to peanuts, then you need to make sure there's an epi pen on hand, teach YOUR child not to eat the lunches of other kids, or homeschool them. To make the majority bend to the very, very minority is unfair, discriminatory and plain alarmist. What if someone's kid is a super picky eater? They all go through that phase...so what if a good ol' PBJ is all the kid will eat? So, that child is going to have to suffer because YOUR kid has the problem? I don't think so. Keep your kid at home, or teach HIM how to be responsible.

    Posted by Cathy March 22, 09 10:28 PM
  1. We are vegetarians. There are some kids who are allergic to soy, nuts, dairy, eggs, wheat - basically our entire diet. I will find nut free snacks for the classroom, as requested. But my kid will not go hungry on the off chance that your kid will have a severe reaction. I will hammer into my kids the importance of not sharing lunches, and of staying away from the nut free table. But I agree that 'nut-free' creates a false sense of security, and that the needs of the many must be considered.

    Posted by BMS March 23, 09 02:19 PM
  1. FREE THE PEANUTS!

    In all seriousness, peanuts and cashews aren't even good for you. Stick to almonds, brazil nuts, and walnuts if you must have nuts. Read up on the paleo diet - eat tree nuts if you must have them.

    Posted by FJ March 23, 09 03:17 PM
  1. Another thought I had: even if it is considered a disability, we can accommodate disability without banning something for every other kid. I mean, do we ban stairs because of 1 kid in a wheelchair?

    Posted by BMS March 26, 09 11:31 AM
  1. RE: The girl who died after kissing her boyfriend...

    The boyfriend actually only ate peanut butter on toast nine hours before the kiss, and peanut traces do not remain within your system after more than one hour. What actually happened is that they were smoking marijuana at a party and she died from a severe asthma reaction.

    http://www.salon.com/env/vital_signs/2009/02/05/peanut_allergy/print.html

    This article makes some interesting points about the whole situation.


    Posted by EMB April 5, 09 09:17 PM
  1. I consider, that you commit an error. Write to me in PM, we will communicate.

    Posted by Porfirio June 8, 13 03:22 AM
add your comment
Required
Required (will not be published)

This blogger might want to review your comment before posting it.

About the author

Barbara F. Meltz is a freelance writer, parenting consultant, and author of "Put Yourself in Their Shoes: Understanding How Your Children See the World." She won several awards for her weekly "Child Caring" column in the Globe, including the 2008 American Psychological Association Print Excellence award. Barbara is available as a speaker for parent groups.

Submit a question for Barbara's Mailbag


Ask Barbara a question

Barbara answers questions on a wide range of topics, including autism, breastfeeding, bullying, discipline, divorce, kindergarten, potty training, sleep, tantrums, and much, much more.

Send your questions to her at:
meltzbarbara (at) gmail.com.
Please include your name and hometown.

Child in Mind

Moms
All parenting discussions
Discussions

High needs/fussy baby

memes98 writes "My 10.5 month old DS has been fussy ever since he was born, but I am getting very frustrated because I thought he would be much better by now...has anyone else been through this?"

More community voices

Child in Mind

Corner Kicks

Dirty Old Boston

Mortal Matters

On Deck

TEDx Beacon Street

RSS feed


click here to subscribe to
Child Caring

archives