Do you put your child in a bubble or teach them how to deal with their PA?

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I know this may ruffle some feather out there but I am interested to read what people have to say.

My son has a PA. I have yet to discover how sever it is but I am doing lots of research and taking extra care that he doesn't get anything with nut in it. My question is: Does everyone who has children with PA feel that you need to prevent you child 100% from having a reaction and get rid of every possible risk from your home and anyplace that you child will be? Or do you feel that you should be making your child aware of their allergy and teach them how to avoid a reaction when they are in places that have nuts including your own home?

Personally, I want my child to be aware of their allergy and learn how to protect himself. Unfortunately he is only 18 months so this is impossible to do now. But I still have peanut products in my home and my 4 year old still eats peanut butter sandwiches and other peanut product. I am very careful about making sure my PA son is not in contact with any nuts and we are very careful when making meals. We are also making sure that our 4 year old is aware that his brother cannot have peanut and they could make him very sick.

What are you thought. Like I said before I am very interested in what people have to say and I might even find myself changing my own opinion on the matter.

By cmvervais on Apr 8, 2010

My feeling is that my child deserves to have one safe place. That is home. She will have so much to learn about how to avoid peanut products at school, in restaurants, at friend's homes, etc. I don't want her to ever feel like home is an unsafe place. Because of that, we have removed all peanut products from our house. If this was a less serious allergy, then I would just teach her not to eat the food, but the fact is, peanut allergy can be life threatening. I want us to be able to relax at home, no stress, no worries that there may be residue peanut butter or a stray peanut M&M lurking somewhere... some children are sensitive enough that if they just touch a surface that had peanut on it, they have a reaction.

When we go out as she gets older, I will teach her not to share food, always ask ingredients, etc. I'm going to let her have as many normal childhood experiences as possible, I won't be putting her in a "bubble." But it's a dangerous allergy, so there will be some situations that just won't be appropriate for her ... like going out to eat in lots of restaurants.

I know that food allergies are complicated, and so I just do my best to protect my child until she's old enough to protect herself.

By hmdimaggio on Apr 12, 2010

Yes I do feel like I need to put our son in a bubble. He can't have alot of things because of this peanut allergy. It drives us batty. Some say yes he can some say no he can't on the same food we ask about. I get really scared.

By rm80 on Apr 12, 2010

TJP,

There's no one answer here because not all individuals with a peanut allergy will react the same. Severity of reactions and the triggering amount will most likely dictate how thoroughly you have to avoid. If your child's peanut allergy isn't that severe I say keep doing what you're doing and don't go overboard on avoiding IF the reactions aren't that bad.

On the flip side you have to keep in mind that for other kids this isn't the case and the reactions are triggered by the smallest amounts of residue and along with a severe anaphylactic reaction, the child may also have asthma which ups the mortality stakes significantly with each and every reaction. So I would say what you're referring to as a "bubble" is a judgment on other children's reactions and circumstances that you don't currently live with. If your son's reactions become worse and he becomes asthmatic you may alter your course... or not.

As to teaching our children to manage the allergy themselves I would say most parents do but it takes time. Most teens and young adults aren't really aware of their mortality so it's a little hard to impress upon a elementary school child or younger exactly what can happen to him or her.

The big golden rule in parenting kids with a peanut allergy is don't assume that you know what another child's reactions are like based only on your child. But again, if keeping peanut in the house is working for you guys based on lack of reactions, or at least severe reactions, heck, don't stop. It didn't work out for us but maybe you lucked out and your child has only a mild allergy and actually needs to eat it before reacting.

By steviesparents on Apr 13, 2010

Yes we have a bubble boy, but he is aware of his allergies and what he can and can not eat. He is 14, and we have been dealing with this since he was 6 months old. We have had one reaction to his throat closing, and that was recent, it was from pop tarts (the do not label for made in the same facility). We are relooking at his allowed foods right now...they are quickly becoming few and far between (love peanut free planet, no nuttin, and vermont chocolate). So right now he is really a bubble boy, we have total control over what goes in his mouth and on and around his body. (he is allergic to the oil, even in things, and air borne)

By B3K on Apr 23, 2010

This is my first time on this web site and yours was the first question I read and I felt I had to reply. Our son was diagnosed PA @ age 1, we went on life as normal for the rest of our family and was just very careful to not cross contaminate or allow our son anything with nuts in it. When he was 3 and our other son was 5 I was making breakfast and getting ready for school when I realized my PA son had gotten in the sink and licked the kife that I had used for my other sons PBJ sand. ( By the way we talkede often about how important it was to NEVER EVER touch peanut butter)within seconds he started swelling and having a severe reaction. Long story short after trip to ER we came home and "emptied" our home of ANYTHING that was not 100% safe for him! We also have not had any nuts or PB since that day ( it has been 6 yrs ago.) It is just not worth the risk. We want our home to be a stress-free place where we do not have to worry. We can always relax now when we are at home and we are very thankful to have the chance to realize how serious his allergy is and the chance to change the way we look at things.

By TJP on Apr 24, 2010

B3K - That is and interesting story. It give you a little "food for thought". I am glad you pointed this possibility out because I had never thought of something like that happening.

We are new to the PA world so stories like that are helpful to keep everyone on their toes.

rm80 - I agree with you on the main rule you stated. All kids have a different reaction. I would never expose a child to peanuts even if I knew they did have a PA. You never know when a PA might rear its ugly head. Here is hoping that my LO doesn't have to sever a reaction. We are still waiting to get an appointment from and allergist so we don't yet know just how bad his allergy really is. I don't know if we will be keeping Peanuts in the house. We have been buying nut free products so that our PA LO can eat whatever we are eating but I admit we do have PB in the house. I don't think I will be buying it again when this jar is gone but I hate to throw anything out. Yes everyone is probably thinking why would I risk my sons life for a jar of PB. We feel comfortable having it in our house at this time and confident that we will be able to keep him from being exposed.

By chelle.tovar on Apr 24, 2010

I only have one child so it was easy for my husband and I to completely rid the house of peanuts and keep it that way. I would like to have home the place she wont have to worry about it. She is only 3 right now but I plan to make sure she is very knowledgeable about her PA in every aspect. I want her to know how to handle bullies and I think the best way is if she can comfortably put them in their place by letting them know exactly what could happen to her body if exposed to peanuts. I think the best thing for our kids is to teach them everything we can about their PA... of course, I'm still trying to figure out how to do all this without terrifying her and making her scared to leave the house!

By cervonil on May 13, 2010

My 4 year old was just diagnosed 3 weeks ago, and I am a wreck and I want to make him a bubble boy. He had 2 reaction which have sent him to the ER, so severe reactions. Originally my husband did not want to get rid of all PB in our house, as his 2 daughters eat it every day, but as the days went on he felt uncomfortable every time he opened the jar to make a sandwich - so think he is convinced it is just not worth it.

Now his preschool is not peanut free, and at school they decided to make a peanut free table for Carter. Well this meant he couldn't sit with his best friend anymore. He was supposed to be at an end of year ice cream party today. I spent all week finding safe toppings for him and safe ice cream. Today he tells me he doesn't want to go. Then he said he was sad b/c Max never sits with him at lunch anymore. It was everything I could do to not bust out crying. So what do I do? His safety has to come first. I did everything to try to get him to go to school but he won't. At the Mother's Day Lunch last week he could not have the cupcake or cookies - his teacher made him special safe cookies and I brought in chocolate chips which he loves, so he seemed ok that day. but I guess it did really affect him b/c now he will not go to this fun party. I feel like saying "forget it, you can sit wherever you want!". But I know I can't do that. It's just awful. So you do the best you can given your situation. Don't harp on it too much but still make him constantly aware. It is such a FINE LINE.

Good luck!

By tnelson on May 19, 2010

This question comes up so frequently, and causes so many families to struggle. LTA's are not only "life threatening", they are "life altering" for the entire family, and community. While it can be difficult, it can also be an oppurtunity to think about the decisions we make. I do think each family has to make the choices that suit their needs. That being said, I strongly believe that as parents we must strive to create a nurturing, healthy environment for our children. They are our responsibility. Imagine for a moment that you are confined in a place that threatens your existence every moment of the day. How would you feel? Now imagine you are a child and have no say in where you live. I think the larger issue is not whether or not you want to throw away a jar of peanut butter, but how much you value the child in your care, and how you will show that child that you are his/her protector. For our family, we have made our home our child's sanctuary, not only from nuts, but from all of life's ordeals. She knows this is a safe environment where she can be free to express herself and grow into the healthy adult we hope she will become. To us, that is what home means. Our child has had LTA's since birth, and it has not always been an easy road, but it has been worth the journey. Now that she is 12, she is able to deal with her situation much more ably, but she is also much more aware of her own mortality. I think that is a very difficult thing to deal with at that age. It is very interesting to us to have more conversations about issues pertaining to her LTA's. Knowing how she feels about things now validates everything we have done for her in the past. We have so many choices in a given day, that making a few really good ones along the way can really make a difference. I would ask that you think for a moment about the outcomes with each scenario (keeping PB in house vs. throwing it out), and then decide which path you will take. Whatever your choices are, I wish you patience and good health for your child.

By lakeswimr on May 26, 2010

Aren't there any other choices between either putting them in bubbles or teaching them? How about the thing most parents of children with food allergies do and protect their young children while very gradually passing on the responsibility as the children age. Your child is way too young to deal with a PA. You HAVE to protect your child right now. You may be able to do that while having peanuts in the house. I personally think it's a pretty risky thing to do. You may want to read up on peanut allergy if you have not yet. There are people who have died from exposure at home even when family felt they were being careful. An invisible to the eye amount of peanut can cause your child to have a life threatening reaction. One mistake is easy to happen.

Yes, I try to avoid having my child have a reaction because every systemic reaction means there is a chance of a fatality. The epi is not a guarantee a person will survive anaphylaxis. It is not something I worry about but I do all I can to keep my child from allergens. There is no one right way. However, being OK with reactions certainly is not a safe thing. Reactions ought to be avoided. Yes, there is a level of worry where it isn't healthy mentally, but taking common precautions is important.

as your child gets older your child will be able to handle the allergy without you. Until then your child requires your help.

By mamasjoy on Jun 28, 2010

I'm not sure what you mean exactly by living in a "bubble" - that means different things to different people I guess. I do agree that home should be a nut-free and stress free place for your child.

Our extended family has commented that we are raising our PN/TN allergic son in a bubble. That means I bring food for him to every family function (I don't trust food from homes with pb/nuts since family members have proven they don't understand the severity of cross-contamination). I bring a cupcake for him to every birthday party (and have even brought homemade pizza for him when the others were having restaurant pizza). We don't eat in restaurants which many think is just plain overboard (but I just read right here on this site that McDonald's, one of the only safe places to eat, is now serving peanut-butter McFlurries). My son wears an epi-pen to school and has an additional one in his backpack. He is not to share food or accept food from anyone. But having said all that, my son is very sociable, plays soccer, plays piano, takes swimming lessons, and is living a pretty normal life, as normal as we can make it. Our son needs to know that this allergy is very serious (when he's older, we'll tell him that yes, it could kill him). He needs to know how to protect himself and how to be safe wherever he goes. He IS different from the other kids at school. There's nothing wrong with that.

I guess for us we would rather go the extra mile (bringing a safe treat to a birthday party, for example) than rely on someone else's "I'm pretty sure it's safe for him to eat" attitude. It's just comfort level thing for us, the parents, I think, and some parents are a more liberal, which is fine, but for us we need that 100% reassurance. You just do what you're comfortable with. By the way, I think we have become more or less vigilant based on past experiences as well. The final straw was when my sister in law ordered a walnut loaded ice cream cake for Dairy Queen for my father-in-law's bday. We were so dissapointed and from then on we decided that we couldn't even rely on family to protect our son. If you have friends and family who you feel you can trust totally, God bless you (and them). You are very lucky.

Sorry for the long response. I wish you all the best in whatever course you choose.

By cbmclean on Jun 28, 2010

Hey guys. I am new to the forum. I actually don't have any food allergies of which I am aware. In fact, I looooooove peanuts (and tree nuts), especially peanut butter, but I am mortally afraid of inadvertently hurting one of you guys or your loved ones. As a response, I have stopped buying/eating any product with peanuts/tree nuts. I know that it is conceivably possible for even the tiniest bit of residue from a nut product which I eat could kill one of you guys. Of course, I could take some precautions, such as always washing my hands after eating something with peanuts etc, but that would only reduce the risk, not eliminate it.

To be honest, this is not something which makes me happy. both because I really miss my favorite nut-foods. So I would like to know, if you were in my place, would you feel morally obligated to abstain from nuts? If someone could wave a magic wand, and make you (or your loved one) able to eat nuts again, would you feel okay doing so? When, thinking about your answer, please don't consider issues of practicality. I know that we have zero chance of getting all non-nut-allergy people to abstain from nuts. That is not very relevant in my moral code. Either eating nuts is wrong, or it isn't. What do you guys think?

By Mrsdocrse on Jul 2, 2010

Hi,

Just wanted to post my thoughts. I have one son who is almost 10 with a PA. Our house is Peanut Free. Like most others I feel like He needs to have one place that he doesn't have worry. The most stressful time for me was when he was a toddler and in to everything. It might not be so easy to keep them from getting into something they shouldn't. However, everyone is different. If you are confortable with it.. good for you. Everyone's reactions are difference and tolerence level too.

By Mrsdocrse on Jul 2, 2010

Hi,

Just wanted to post my thoughts. I have one son who is almost 10 with a PA. Our house is Peanut Free. Like most others I feel like He needs to have one place that he doesn't have worry. The most stressful time for me was when he was a toddler and in to everything. It might not be so easy to keep them from getting into something they shouldn't. However, everyone is different. If you are confortable with it.. good for you. Everyone's reactions are difference and tolerence level too.

By double concerned twinsmom on Jul 3, 2010

If you have not had a IgE specific for peanut blood test done on your child, I would recommend that as soon as the MD would write the order. In some sense, you must find the balance with people saying your child is living in a bubble. Our home is the ONE place that our children KNOW they are safe. We eat nothing with a cross contamination warning/nut label. We have had too many contact reactions in movie theaters, Vacation Bible School settings etc. The more your child is triggered by peanut protein, the more severe the reactions will become and the more likely that it could eventually be fatal. Personally, I could never live with myself if I played a part in that. It is just NOT worth it. Find a food allergy support group and get a referral to a highly recommended food allergist who can help you set safe boundaries for your child. I wish I had done that very early on! It is good that you found this site when your child is so young! There is wonderful advice on here. Buy the red stickers that go on clothes/diaper bags that say "Peanut Allergy". Make a button to put on your child when you leave them in a church nursery, day care, VBS program....we cant put them in a bubble but we can be as safe as possible!

By Mrsdocrse on Jul 20, 2010

Hi Sidni Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I am sorry that your parents didn't always take it seriously. Your right there are some people that are just afraid. your right, you can't be afraid of life.. I do protect my son. But I also tell him that we don't live in a peanut free world so you have to learn how to live in it. han

Thanks

By Zachnunes on Jul 22, 2010

Sounds like we have very similiar experiences, and very similiar views.

Thanks for writting this.

By sidni on Jul 20, 2010

I am not a parent, but can tell you what it was like with my parents dealing with my allergies.

They were extremely, extremely lax about it. I didn't develop my allergies until I was about 9 or 10 years old (although I think I was having mild reactions for years before and had always been turned off to PB), and it made it hard for them to adjust-- there was even a lot of doubt as to the existence of the allergies (despite being prescribed epi-pens, my throat nearly closing from trace amounts on more than one occassion, the list goes on!)

They did keep peanut butter, almond butter, and foods with nuts in the house, but eventually became conscious of cleaning it up really, really well. They brought us out to dinner all the time which was always a nerve-wracking experience and as I got a bit older, I often didn't go. I moved out when I was 16, went to community college, then tech school then university. I lived in 3 countries by the time I was 19, several major cities, and traveled extensively.

.With time, my parents have gotten much better about it, much more aware, but my dad is still hoping for these allergies to magically go away. When family comes to visit now for holidays, they always include in the e-mails NO NUTS and people adhere to it. The first year they did this, an aunt made candied nuts and put stupid signs in them saying "NO nuts." Boy, was I pissed....

In school, I did not have the luxury of a nut free table. No one was making me special meals, no teacher was making exceptions for my allergies. I had to learn to keep my self safe. EDIT TO ADD: I do wish my parents had eliminated nuts from our house (or at least mostly eliminated nuts from the house) as I never really had a "safe zone" -- as an adult, I've created this in my own home, even when living with quite an array of roommates and 2 different boyfriends.

I don't think I would have accomplished nearly as much as I have had I been kept in a "bubble." I am acutely aware of the signs of an allergic reaction, and extremely careful. I have developed my own comfort zone and no sense of entitlement. I have meet people only several years younger than I am who grew up with PA/TNA and they often expect to be accommodated, coddled, and generally taken care of. Life isn't this way and not every situation can be about you and your allergies. A certain reasonable level of accommodation is nice, hopefully possible, but not everyone can bend over backwards to insulate you from the behavior of others. I have met people who will not take the subway/metro/T/whatever or the bus because someone might eat nuts. This people are afraid to fly (even on flights that don't serve nuts), they will rarely travel, rarely go to weddings/catered events, and I just find this really sad.

I was angry with my parents for not treating my allergies with much sensitivity, but now I'm glad they didn't as I learned that the ONLY person who can keep me safe is me, and *I* am anywhere I go in the world. I understand with a young, young child you HAVE to protect them, but the world is a beautiful place, not a scary one. We are more powerful than peanuts...

By TJP on Jul 20, 2010

Sidni, thank you for your story. It is nice to hear the prospective of a PA/TNA person. I agree with you 100% about how some people shelter themselves or their children because of allergies. Reading you story has helped me to decide what course to take with regards to dealing with my sons PA.

By TJP on Dec 1, 2010

I think that is a little extreme unless his PA is sever. I know children who have such a bad PA that even just touching a peanut or even the place where one had touched the table will cause a sever reaction. If it were me and he had a sever allergy or even just a medium one then I would keep my home peanut free if I ever wanted them to come over. If it is a medium to mild allergy I would wait it out and let his parent come to grips with what they are dealing with and then broach the subject with them. They are probably really scared and on overload after finding out their child has a PA. As far as grocery shopping goes it isn't so bad to make sure you have a peanut free home. That is assuming you live in Canada. I don't know what it is like in the USA but here almost everything with any form of nuts or that may have come in contact with nuts has it written on the box. You may also want to Google - Other names for peanuts. You will be surprised at how many different names come up.

By Mrsdocrse on Dec 4, 2010

Hi wanttolearn, Nice to hear that you are concerned and want to help your nephew stay safe. I agree with the other posters that when you are newly diagnosed you are overwhelmed and look at the surrounding world completely different than before. I cleaned my house from top to bottom and and stayed in the house I think for a week. I was afraid to take my son out. After you have change to digest the awful reality that your life will not be the same. you figure out ways to live safer. There are no guarantees in life for anything. This is no different. Persoanlly asking everyone who comes in contact with your nephew to go peanut free even the "may contains" is asking a lot. Just my opinion. I did lighten up after a while and we go places and do things all the time. We travel and do everything everyone else does.

good luck

By wanttolearn on Dec 1, 2010

Maybe someone here can help me. We are in an awkward situation with my nephew's PA. It is a new diagnosis and teh family is trying to be supportive. However...until every single one of us goes peanut free we are not allowed to see him. We can not have items even processed in a plant in our home if we want to see him. Do I just do it? We are an adult family ( no kids) and no one would dare put out any products while he was visiting. I will mention he is 11 months old. But to not be able to have our own groceries in our home? In the cabinet? How will basic functions like grocery shopping be done? How can I help her?

By cmvervais on Dec 1, 2010

Wanttolearn - You may find that over time, the parents become less restrictive. When your child is newly diagnosed, suddenly every piece of food that crosses their path looks like poison.... I think it's natural to want as few contaminated food items around as possible.

However, it is a bit unrealistic to demand that everyone you know go peanut-free. When my daughter is at the home of family members, I ask that they don't eat food items they know contain nuts, and that they wash their hands after eating and before playing with my daughter. (LOTS of food items have cross-contamination issues, so better safe than sorry.) If there is food around that isn't safe for her, I also ask that they don't give her kisses, just hugs.

If you are very good about keeping food out of his reach, washing hands, not cooking with nuts/nut oils around him, then most PA kids will be fine. I think if you verbalize the precautions you've taken for his visit, it makes the parents feel better. Let them know you won't feed him anything they didn't provide, that you didn't eat any peanut butter sandwiches that day, etc. You may just have to be patient for a while until they get used to this new lifestyle and try to keep him safe.

By cervonil on Dec 2, 2010

ok now I read your situation. In the beginning you totally freak out and are over paranoid. It should ease up over time. She really needs to talk to the allergist b/c I have never heard of one recommending her behavior. It is really way over the top and she will scare the sh*t out of the poor kid, instead of teaching him how to deal/live with this food allergy. Hopefully she will learn how to learn to live with it and teach her child to live with it and be safe and still enjoy life. I'm still pretty paranoid and need help. Oh, and recommend a local support group for her. She can find it on the FAAN website. That will help her a lot!

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