Together, parents create workable nut policies for schools

Pink Sherbet

Most parents – with and without children who have nut allergies – do not support school-wide bans on foods containing nuts, but they do support modifications that allow nut-allergic children to be safe.

It appears that parents appreciate it when schools don’t have a single standard for managing classrooms with nut-allergic children and prefer to create their own strategies for a safe snack and lunchtime.

Not a single “right” strategy

In this poll, taken by the University of Michigan C.S. Mott children’s Hospital National Poll on Children’s Health, parents of elementary school-aged children were asked what they thought was the best way to handle school mealtime when children with nut allergies were present.

There were 816 parents; 5% had nut allergies. For parent of nut allergic children, they preferred by 47% that their children should eat in a lunchroom with no restrictions on where their children sit or what other children eat. This can be contrasted with the 22% of nut-allergic parents who believe a ban on foods containing nuts is the best option. For parents of non-allergic children, they preferred by 58% that allergic children sit at a table designated for food allergies.

“Children with allergies to peanuts and tree nuts must be very careful about what they eat. These allergies can carry life-threatening consequences,” noted Sarah J. Clark, MPH, associate director of the National Poll on Children’s Health and scientist at the UM. “But the results of this poll show that parents don’t believe there is one right strategy for keeping nut-allergic kids safe.”

Parents can work together for a good solution

All parents are concerned about the health of children with nut allergies and are thinking of best ways to control exposure.

“These results are reassuring because it demonstrates parents of unaffected children have empathy and understanding. That can go a long way towards calming anxiety about sending a food-allergic child to school,” Matthew Greenhawt, MD, UM Food Allergy Center, pointed out.

Parents were also asked about their level of support for banning nut products from classrooms with nut-allergic children. Sixty-one percent said they would support that.

“These results provide hope that parents can work together with the schools to create a safe and mutually agreeable learning environment for their children,” concluded Greenhawt.

Source: ScienceDaily, University of Michigan Health System
Photo credit: D. Sharon Pruitt/Pink Sherbet Photography at flickr.com

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