Local Newspaper story on food allergies :(
Last week our local newspaper included a story on food allergies. I think it was supposed to be primarily on how local daycares deal with food allergies, which was actually very good. The daycare centers are taking good precautions, separating peanut and non-peanut eaters, sometimes in different rooms for lunch and snack with good cleanup procedures. They seem to be taking it very seriously.
However, the article also highlights a mother and her 6-year old daughter (in our school district) which includes statements that IMO undermine the efforts of people like me that try to stress that a peanut/food allergy is serious business and people can die from it.
Excerpts from the article:
"...Imagine a child stealing a break from mom's healthful eating rules, joyfully chomping on a chocolate bar from a birthday party goodie bag. Now imagine a child who would willingly stop after the first bite, spit out the candy, and use a napkin to scrape the remainder of the taste from her mouth."
Yes, you guys. That was the first paragraph of the article--Yikes! I was angry when I read that because it gives readers the impression that if the food allergen is spit out, nothing will happen. Ryan isn't so lucky. If the peanut protein merely touches his tongue (he doesn't have to ingest), he can go into anaphylactic shock within 20 seconds. I've seen it happen that fast from merely biting into one Reese's piece and spitting it out before we knew about his PA.
"That's X resident X X's daughter, a 6-year old with a peanut allegy, who has learned to steer clear of peanuts, even when she grabs a nutty candy bar by accident. She understands that eating peanuts could propel her into anaphylactice shock, which could be fatal.
"She's gotten really good with it," X said. "She just came back from a play date, and I told the other mother she couldn't have peanut butter and jelly, and my daughter piped up and said, "I can have jelly."
Now that her daughter is 6 and has learned what's off limits, the peanut allergy is less stressful for X. But the toddler years were a different story..."
I have an issue with the PB&J thing. One can never assume another mother's jelly jar is safe. The PB knife was likely used in the same jar. That is the second bit of info that really got me going.
Then saying that her 6-year old has learned what's off limits. Uh, no. 6-year olds know "relatively". She makes it seem easy once a 6-year old enters school. This is exactly when things get more difficult because we're sending our children into a world where most adults they're around know relatively little about the intricacies of a food allergy, peanut in particular in this case.
Here are the last two paragraphs in the article which make we want to spit fire:
"It's all in how you present it to the child," she said. "If the adult is acting as thought it's a tremendous hardship, it's tougher." That strategy seemed to work for X, who has maintained such an upbeat attitude about family food allergies that her daughter spits out nutty candy without complaint.
"Oh, we're always joking about it," she said. "I'll have a peanut butter sandwich and say, 'Ya want some?' She says, 'Mom, you know I can't.' "
I don't mind the joking, but the 180 in the article is clearly noted. Daycares separate the peanut and non peanut eaters. The mother eats it right in front of her child at home. Our allergist says, "Get PB out of the house."
I realize not everyone removes PB from the house, but this mother makes it seem like having peanut candy and PB is no big deal. It IS a big deal. If it's going to be in the house, precautions must be taken. She makes it seem like it's no big deal and that's the problem. And as for spitting out nutty candy without a complaint, well, I won't even go there.
Every article like this makes my job that much harder. Makes it harder for schools to take peanut allergies seriously too. At least the daycare info was fairly good.
The day I read the article, I called the Lifestyle Editor and emphasized the contradictions in it. I volunteered my name and help in writing another article on educating children with food allergies and info on 504's. I made it clear to her that articles like this actually hurt kids with peanut allergies because people tend to think it's no big deal and little precautions need to be taken. Not once did this mother ever mention carrying an epi either. Really unbelieveable IMO.