Horrifying Article in Slate

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I found this article horrifying, particularly where she deliberately sends unsafe food to a pre-school. When I calm down, I'm definitely sending a letter

[url="http://www.slate.com/id/2146628/"]http://www.slate.com/id/2146628/[/url]

family: Snapshots of life at home. Trees vs. Children Are nut allergies taking over the planet? By Emily Bazelon Posted Thursday, July 27, 2006, at 2:22 PM ET Earlier this month, the city of Milford, Conn., agreed to cut down three 60-feet-high hickory trees because of a 3-year-old's nut allergy. The trees rise over the backyard and swimming pool of the child's grandmother, who helps take care of him. According to the New York Times, he once had to go to the hospital after touching a bowl of cashews. If the trees don't come out, he could die, his family told the town. Neighbors, however, are skeptical: They say the grandmother tried to have one of the trees removed before and is now using the allergy to her advantage.

Who is crazy here

On Jul 27, 2006

Horrifying? Not to me. Seemed pretty honest and balanced. Maybe I'm missing something [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/confused.gif[/img]

On Jul 27, 2006

I don't have a problem with it, either. It seems very honest and the writer didn't seem vicious or all "got to protect my rights"-y. The writer just wants to know how far people really have to go to protect someone. Truly, why is it that this writer can't send may contains to class? Is there a fear that the allergic child will eat them? To think that peanut protein can make its way from a may contain to the mouth/skin of a PA kid seems a bit of a stretch for me. A peanut butter cup bothers me. Plain M&M's (for others, not for Sam) do not. As PA parents, of course we want our children to be as safe as possible -- but we might find that others are a lot more willing to help us out if we don't ask for (or demand) more than we need to.

On Jul 27, 2006

I certainly don't see anything wrong with the spirit of the article.

Frankly, I would prefer it as well if everyone with any kind of food intolerance didn't label themselves as "severely allergic" to everything under the sun. It diminishes my daughter's freaking reality. (Pardon my turn of phrase) She [i]is[/i] one of the unlucky ones. I'd rather she learned to live the way she can rather than feeling perpetually sorry for herself, however.

Her life is really really limited, though. Truly. Nobody would find fault with us for being hypocritical about accommodations we don't really need or live in our own day-to-day life. So I have an answer for the snotty, mean-spirited "Well, then, if she's [i]really soooo sensitive[/i], how do you ever__________" ( fill in the blank with whatever activity du juor) My reply? WE DON'T. (Not like they do, anyway.)

I also don't have a problem with my daughter [i]being around[/i] "in a facility" products at all. And with ample adult supervision, I don't have a problem with her being around "may contains." No, it isn't "fair" to her, but then again, life isn't always about what's fair.

What I am curious about though is the author's purported Sampson quote from the NYTimes Magazine cover article. I no longer have the article mentioned, but I remember it very well. And I don't recall that quote about "hypochondria". What I do recall is him saying that with little PA kids if everyone THINKS you are crazy, you're doing it right. The part about unnecessary food restrictions referred to self-diagnoses, not our kids.

Anyone else have the NYTimes piece?

On Jul 27, 2006

here is the link to the NY Times article. [url="http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9D04EFD7153FF933A25755C0A9679C8B63&sec=health&pagewanted=3"]http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.ht...th&pagewanted=3[/url]

the link doesn't seem to be working right. the first page of the article (that contains Sampson's quote) is pasted below. the Slate piece takes Sampson's quote somewhat out of context. The Allergy Prison Print Single-Page Save

By SUSAN DOMINUS Published: June 10, 2001 Parents of highly allergic children tend to know how annoying they can be and that they can come across as the most overly anxious people ever to hector a school nurse. For the most part, they don't much care. To them, their obsessive precautions are the least they can do. When Amy Nathan goes grocery shopping, she checks every product's lists of ingredients, reading every one of the millimeter-high words no matter how many times she has bought it before. The recipe could change, if only slightly. Then she double-checks that list as she unpacks the groceries, then triple-checks it once again before actually serving the item. She frequently follows up with manufacturers to grill them about their production procedures. (The F.D.A. recently examined 85 independent cookie and ice-cream manufacturers and found nearly one-quarter of their products contained ingredients not listed.) Her routines are part talismanic ritual, part doctor's orders. ''I tell my patients, if people point at you when you walk down the street and say, 'Look at that neurotic parent,''' says Paul Ehrlich, a pediatric immunologist in New York City, ''then and only then are you being careful enough.''

No doubt, some of the rise in allergies can be attributed to greater awareness and the culture's diminishing tolerance for illness in any form. And as with most diseases, with increased awareness comes a degree of hypochondria. These kinds of allergies play upon two of our most persistent preoccupations -- health and food. ''It's always tempting to relate some physical event or symptom back to what you've put in your mouth,'' says Dr. Hugh Sampson, chief of the division of pediatric allergy and immunology at Mount Sinai Medical Center. ''Hypochondria is a big problem in this area.'' He doesn't sound so much frustrated as accepting of the fact that some of the parents or patients who come to see him will want to discuss allergies that do not exist. ''There's definitely a certain personality type,'' he says. ''It's usually the person who comes in and says they're allergic to 30 different things, as opposed to the person who comes in and says she thinks she has an allergy to Brazil nuts.'' Relatively simple blood tests can reveal whether the allergen-specific antibody known as IgE is produced in response to a given food. Nonetheless, Sampson occasionally hears reports of parents who seem so invested in their child's unproven food allergies that the child ends up dangerously malnourished.

But even accounting for food neurotics, Sampson, widely considered the country's foremost expert on pediatric allergies, is convinced that food allergies -- medically proven ones -- are increasingly prevalent. Sampson tested comparable groups of children in the 1980's and in the 1990's and found that the presence of antibodies to peanuts had increased by 55 percent. Actual allergic reactions had increased by 95 percent. ''The study is certainly not conclusive,'' Sampson says, ''but it does suggest that something has changed.'' For all Sampson knows, it's the nut itself; it could also be that children are now introduced to some of these foods at earlier ages, before their immune systems are fully developed. (If a child who is breast-feeding has the right genetic predisposition, he might react to the nuts in his mother's diet, thereby triggering an allergy that could otherwise have remained latent.)

Another theory, however, that is gaining currency among immunologists is that some change in the environment, something added or missing, has disrupted the workings of the immune system. Among the white blood cells that protect the body, there are two kinds of lymphocytes that interact in a kind of subtle feedback mechanism -- the kind that fights intracellular infections (like viruses) and the kind that fights extracellular infections (like parasitic worms) and, erroneously, allergens. In a healthy body, as the production of one kind of cell is triggered, a protein is released that suppresses the production of the other kind. And vice versa -- it is an efficient way of making sure that the body's resources are allocated to the most urgent task. As allergies of every kind have risen in developed nations, immunologists have started to question whether a third kind of lymphocyte, which controls the activities of the other two, has lost its capacity to keep both arms of the defense system in check. This regulatory failure would account for the recent rise in autoimmune diseases like multiple sclerosis, in which the infection-fighting system becomes so overactive that it turns against the body's own cells. When the allergen-fighting system speeds out of control, the result is hay fever / or children who develop life-threatening reactions to peanuts.

On Jul 27, 2006

Thanks!!

I was wrong... it was Ehrlich who gave the "neurotic" quote, which has always been a personal favorite of mine.

But I think Sampson does a good job in the original article of carefully NOT SAYING what this author tries to quote him saying. PA kids with medical diagnosis of allergy (even MFA) are not who he is talking about. No wonder I didn't recollect the quote she uses out of context.

On Jul 27, 2006

i too have no problem with what the writer of the first article said, for the most part. i see no reason at all why other kids cannot eat may-contains near my child. it's sad that my daughters cannot have them...but that's life. they are learning some important lessons even if it's not quite fair all the time. however, i would be very upset if peanut products (listed in the ingredients) were allowed in the classroom. that's not just unfair...it's also dangerous. my two pa girls ARE that sensitive, as are others.

i also agree that too many people call their own sensitivities, intolerances or mild allergies "life threatening" when if fact they are not. that just makes the few of us that ARE dealing with the very real threat of anaphylaxis look like neurotics.

a perfect example would be my girls' soy allergy. yes...they are both allergic to soy and have always been. is it a serious allergy for them???? no. does it create the potential for anaphylaxis? no. do we eat products containing soy? yes.

if i were to go around exclaiming that my girls have a life threatening allergy to soy, while feeding it to them and having it near them, it would make it easy for other people with a REAL life threatening allergy to soy look as though they could not be taken seriously. for that reason, i don't mention the soy allergy to our school nurse or teachers. i wouldn't want to undermine someone else's need to be taken seriously in their requests to protect their child with a real, life threatening soy allergy.

it is for that same reason that i wish others who claim to have serious, life threatening allergies, but in reality do not, would stop saying it to anyone and everyone who will listen. (getting gas from milk, for ex, is very different from going into anaphylaxis from milk.....).

i'm sure there are people who get tired of being inconvenienced by hypochondriacs, and who could blame them? i think the writer of the first article was expressing frustration over having his/her child's "may contain" snack taken away. it's not like he was trying to send in a pb sandwich, pb crackers or reeses or something.

for my family, getting rid of the obvious peanut risks in the classroom is all i ask for. AND I DO ASK FOR THAT. it's a necessity. i don't do it because i have some need to inconvenience other people. but, other children can consume their may contain items as they wish...i feel the risk is quite low that peanut is in the item in the first place and even lower that it could get into or onto my child.

On Jul 27, 2006

This was my favorite part

Quote:

I left the crackers with Eli. They provoked no allergic reaction in his preschool classmate. When I got home that night, I checked the Annie's box. There was the telltale warning: "Produced in a facility that also manufactures products containing peanuts and tree nuts." So, what's the moral of this story

On Jul 27, 2006

I think the article is ok overall, but I was annoyed about the author sending may contain snacks. The author knew the rule, had a snack sent back the day before, and STILL did not take 2 seconds to read the cracker package before sending them to school with the child. The school agreed to this rule. It is not up to this parent to decide that it doesn't apply to them.

Cathy

On Jul 27, 2006

okay. maybe i will agree with you since the kids are very, very young but with older children in school it's only playing russian roulette if the PA kid eats the may contain snack. the others should safely be able to have that snack without creating a risky situation for the PA child. (just my opinion...i'm willing to consider that i could be wrong. it's just worked for us this way and i find we get far more cooperation from other students/parents/staff if we don't impose too many restrictions. just the absolutely necessary ones).

i didn't read the part where it stated these children were of preschool age. even so, my kids knew (even at that age), not to sample anyone else's snack. i realize that could vary from child to child though. there could be some risk to that.

On Jul 27, 2006

Am I wrong, or isn't ALL peanut allergy life threatening? The writer of the first article references kids who are only "slightly allergic" or something to that effect.

She also stated that it would be hard to determine whether a minor allergy had progressed to a serious one because it would require testing after each exposure. This makes no sense, as test results do not indicate the seriousness of the allergy, only the likelihood of a reaction (in my opinion, NOT the same thing). If my child has a RAST of 1.50, she can still have an anaphylactic reaction, regardless of that number or her prior reactions. Just as a child with a higher RAST might only have hives. That is one of the scariest things about PA, the extreme unpredictability. Yes, perhaps she would be unlikely to have any reaction, but that's not a chance I'm willing to take. Just as there may not be a high risk of my daughter dying in a car accident if she's not in her carseat 20% of the time. I don't care if it's a small risk, I'm not going to drive around without protecting her 100% of the time.

My problem with the article has more to do with this misleading information than the writer's complaint. As we all know, nobody can understand what this is like unless they deal with it everyday. I wonder what "risks" she'd be willing to take if her children were the ones with PA?

As for parents of kids with so-called mild food allergies being too extreme and making it confusing as to when people should really take it seriously, I believe the opposite is true. I have found that parents who don't take their child's allergy that seriously make it more difficult for me to keep my daughter safe. I have had to answer the question more than once, "how allergic is she"? I tell people you are allergic to peanuts or not, any reaction could potentially be fatal. I will continue to approach it this way until my daughter is healed or old enough to answer these questions herself.

Shannon

On Jul 27, 2006

Thanks for the responses - always good to have a reality check! For the record, I was fine with the first half of the article. Here's where I found it horrifying:

"His son's allergy had never been triggered by airborne particles, and it was no longer particularly serious."

According to whom? Did she consult the child's allergist? She already made it clear in the article that the child's dad didn't think the crackers were safe, but she decided that it was a reasonable risk, because she didn't want her child to go hungry "for the second time in a row."

But whose fault was that? The first time she sent an unsafe snack, she could plead ignorance. But the fact she couldn't be bothered to read the label the very next day to me shows a horrifying lack of concern for a child's health.

Then she goes on to say that the child had no reaction, thus implying the dad was over-reacting. And then the kicker:

"But it would be a lot easier to accommodate allergies graciously if I felt like I could tell the rationally neurotic parent with the extremely allergic kid from the crazy neurotic parent with the slightly allergic one."

In other words, she judged the father of her child's classmate to be "the crazy neurotic parent with the slightly allergic child" who was forcing her son to go hungry. In fact, if I'm reading it right, she directly accuses him of "crying wolf."

Now, from everything I've read, there is no such thing as a "slightly allergic child" when it comes to PA, and the fact that this is her take-home message is what I found horrifying.

[This message has been edited by Greenlady (edited July 27, 2006).]

On Jul 28, 2006

I also found this article to be horrifying. There are so many concerns I have for this article but overall I think the tone of the article will confirm for many people what they suspect, that parents of kids with food allergies are mentally unstable freaks and even doctors think they are crazy. The proof is that she broke the rules and the kid didn't die.

If there was a tree dropping allergens into my childs play space I would do everything in my power to have it removed. Is it possible the grandmother malipulated the situation to have trees removed that she did not want for other reasons. Of course it is. If the child's doctor said it was a risk to the child's health that is good enough for me.

What planet is she from where "every school is nut free"? Wow, I can only dream of such a place!

The comparason of second hand smoke and nut residue is disturbing. I think the analogy of letting a kids play next to a highway is closer. Most kids will be just fine. A couple of them might run out in the road and get run over. The risk is not worth it, not for the kid who might forget and impulsively chase a ball, not for the kids who would witness the trama.

"But the result is that while most adults can probably remember bringing a peanut-butter sandwich to school for lunch, most kids probably can't." So what? I also have memories of a student smoking section in high school. As awareness increases things change.

"In legal terms, solutions like this one are called "overbroad." I would think overbroad would be removing all nut trees from the town where the child resides, not removing the trees from his caregivers home.

Was asking for child who brought in a item labled as may contain peanuts to remove his snack an over reaction? I would not have asked for that although in a preschool setting I would not like kids eating granola or crackers as they are potentially messy. What I have always done is to provide alternative snacks that any child in the classroom can have for any reason. In our case I brought in a huge quantity of pretzels and replenished them as needed.

I find it hard to imagine that Dr. Sampson meant to imply that parents of kids with food allergies are likely to be hypochondriacs. Do we have higher levels of anxiety then most other parents, even sometimes responding to situations in a way that is later found to have been unwarrented? Of course, we have to function on the level of a terrorist watch on red alert most of the time. One mistake could be the last one.

I feel like Emily Brazelton knocked the wind out of me with this article. The casual reader is not going to go over this article with a fine toothed comb. Six months from now they are going to feel perfectly justified sending a peanut infested snack to school because the rules are not reasonable.

On Jul 28, 2006

Quote:

Originally posted by Momcat: [b]I think the article is ok overall, but I was annoyed about the author sending may contain snacks. The author knew the rule, had a snack sent back the day before, and STILL did not take 2 seconds to read the cracker package before sending them to school with the child. The school agreed to this rule. It is not up to this parent to decide that it doesn't apply to them.

Cathy[/b]

I'm annoyed that whoever was directing the preschool for the day didn't [i]do their job[/i] and enforce the rule. Why was it even a "negotiation/discussion" at the parent level??

I would have been like: "Talk to the hand, cause the ears aren't listening."

On Jul 28, 2006

Quote:

Originally posted by Momcat: [b]I think the article is ok overall, but I was annoyed about the author sending may contain snacks. The author knew the rule, had a snack sent back the day before, and STILL did not take 2 seconds to read the cracker package before sending them to school with the child. The school agreed to this rule. It is not up to this parent to decide that it doesn't apply to them.

[/b]

LOL. right. [i]the rules[/i].

it so P.O.'s me that it's even up for discussion. Guess what they say is true. [i]Rules are made to be broken. [/i] (note tone of sarcasm)

For me? The author's gall to even put [i]in writing[/i] the cavalier attitude about breaking the rules (and *gasp* discussing her rule breaking with the parent of the FA child openly) simply and in whole, discredits anything further she has to say *to me* in that article.

I can't take her seriously. Anything she has to say *to me* is henceforth [i]tarnished[/i].

I mean, who are these people who *brag* about #### like that?

I'm so disgusted.......(taste of foul, filth, spew, cleaning my tongue. . .)

And I'm sad. Are these people going to raise another generation of people who make a point of *bragging* about how they "handed it" to someone? At least that's how I read it. Individual Mileage May Vary.

[i]weep[/i].

On Jul 28, 2006

I just emailed Dr. Sampson alerting him to this article and sharing my concerns. I'll let folks know if he says anything. I hope that he contacts the author directly - it would have much more impact than an email from a "crazy neurotic parent."

On Jul 28, 2006

Quote:

Originally posted by Greenlady: [b]I found this article horrifying, particularly where she deliberately sends unsafe food to a pre-school. When I calm down, I'm definitely sending a letter

[url="http://www.slate.com/id/2146628/"]http://www.slate.com/id/2146628/[/url]

family: Snapshots of life at home. Trees vs. Children Are nut allergies taking over the planet? By Emily Bazelon Posted Thursday, July 27, 2006, at 2:22 PM ET

[/b]

excerpt:

[i]"At the risk of sounding heartless and bratty, though, let me try to make the case for better-calibrated, more-moderated responses to nut allergies. Parents who ask for more accommodation than their kids really need do a disservice, I think, by making the rest of us unsure of when we need to strictly comply. It's a form of crying wolf. Or at least that's how it has felt to me on occasion. One summer, my older son Eli, then 4, got sent home from preschool with a stern note, because the granola bar I'd given him for a snack was made at a factory that processed other products that contain tree nuts. The next day I sent Eli with a plastic baggie full of cheese crackers made by Annie's, the organic pasta company. Their factory stamped out organic macaroni and crackers, I thought

On Jul 28, 2006

I read this woman's article once. That was enough. It wasn't a close read...but it left an impression. FEAR for my ds, if she's representative of how other parents think. I got the impression the woman was trying to be fair and balanced, and this was the best she could muster.

Wonder what she really thinks??????

If it were her child with PA, would she want another parent assessing the risk TO HER CHILD's life and well-being of breaking the rule in place at the preschool because of convenience?????

And because the child had no reaction, she thinks it was the right decision???? If every parent in that preschool class decided to send in unsafe snacks, the chances of an allergic child having a reaction increases dramatically.

I feel like her piece gives other parents permission to do so, because hey most of us parents of allergic kids are just neurotic, and most allergies aren't that serious according to her.

*******************

My ds is in preschool and the preschool and parents there have been wonderful.

As far as may contains goes...young kids are FAST, I could easily see how food could be shared between 3 and 4 year olds. The head teacher at ds' preschool already had a very strict allergy policy in place before we got there. Her thinking? It's a SNACK for pete's sake, let's make it safe so they can prevent any accidental reactions.

Come Kindergarten, I could see more how the may contains of others is not of any risk to little grubby curious hands surrounded by other little grubby hands. Preschoolers are generally messier eaters than older kids right?

BTW, I checked out the discussion forum over at Slate in response to her piece, and she's definitely stirred up the pot. Getting lots of others to jump on the "just keep the kid home" bandwagon as well as (I'm paraphrasing here), but pretty accurately "what's one kid's life? the minority can't dictate to the majority".

So I think her piece was a veiled attempt at fair and balanced, but she got her desired effect. Other anonymous people are spewing their hateful opinions about being inconvenienced, and it just makes me sad. [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/frown.gif[/img]

On Jul 28, 2006

[b]"And if I couldn't give Eli his crackers, then he wouldn't have a snack. For the second day in a row. So, there was a cost, however small, for doing as asked."[/b]

I'm still fuming. Lord, don't let a woman who indicates that [i]for herself, her child[/i], a "cost, however small" is [i]too much[/i] to bear in order avoid possible life threatening harm to another child, define "reasonable risk".

That tells me [i]how people really feal[/i]. A "cost, however small", apparently is [i]too much[/i]. Last thing I'm going to do is [i]negotiate[/i] a life threatening risk with someone who feels that way.

No one else is *entitled* to negotiate "reasonable risk" related to my child's life, [i]but me[/i].

FAH.

On Jul 28, 2006

Here's a copy of an email I sent her. I also sent a request to the "corrections" address at slate that a medical expert review her article. **************************************** Dear Ms. Bazelon,

I was absolutely horrified at your irresponsible article on peanut allergies. Can you explain to me why you didn

On Jul 28, 2006

wow--great letter! I especially like the point about how being a little allergic is like being a little pregnant.

I also thought the dig about misquoting an old article as not constituting research is well deserved!

On Jul 28, 2006

Quote:

Originally posted by Greenlady: [b] Was it really such a hardship to take 20 seconds to read a label before sending a snack to pre-school? [/b]

remember, she said: "a cost, however small". Guess that translates to a "hardship".

remember this excerpt?:

[b]"Besides,One summer, my older son Eli, then 4, got sent home from preschool with a stern note, because the granola bar I'd given him for a snack was made at a factory that processed other products that contain tree nuts. The next day I sent Eli with a plastic baggie full of cheese crackers made by Annie's, the organic pasta company. Their factory stamped out organic macaroni and crackers, I thought

On Jul 28, 2006

Well done Greenlady!! Great letter! Thanks for writing it!

On Jul 28, 2006

Good Job GreenLady!

Great letter...hopefully she will see that yes it is inconvient, but worth 20 seconds to read.

One of Aidan's classmate's mom stopped me one day saying how much she thought about me when she was shopping b/c when she is at the store she catches herself reading labels for "her family" foods. She said she can't imagine how I do it all the time.

Or how about a dad that made cookies(pilsbury) for a class party and was so proud that there was no peanuts in them. I told him how much I appreciated it. I also reminded him about Aidan's egg & TN allergies & he was so bummed. He had forgotten. But it made my day that he remembered one. His wife was sick that week & he tried!

Or how about the CHILDREN who will remind their parents that aidan can't have this or that.

This is simple compassion! Why more people can't understand that...baffles me!

mandi

On Jul 28, 2006

Quote:

Originally posted by mama2aidan: [b]Good Job GreenLady!

[/b]

ditto here, too.

On Jul 31, 2006

I have been checking out some of the posts on Slate.com over the weekend. I am absolutely floored by the hatred some people have and the absolute misconceptions many have about food allergies (particularly nuts).

It's really sad that so many have very little regard for the safety of children. There was one total jerk posting frequently stating that our kids were ruled unfit to survive and should just die, we should get over it, home school, keep our child in a bubble, etc. I think he was just trying to be as inflammatory as possible.

Anyway, I didn't post anything because I just didn't have the energy to try and educate all these people who have clearly made up their minds. I decided to come here and vent my frustration to people who can actually relate.

Shannon

On Jul 31, 2006

Shannon,

I read some of those posts, too. I agree--there's no point in arguing with them. No matter how many facts are on your side, people like that will not change their minds.

Cathy

On Jul 31, 2006

I found some of the comments over the top as well...I stopped reading, thought about composing a response, and decided I wouldn't waste my energy. sigh.

I'll spend my energy educating those who have direct contact with my ds.

I also think it's much easier to say absurd things over the internet anonymously without fear of being recognized or without actually looking an allergic child or parent in the face.

Hopefully, people like that are the minority, and if we're courteous to other parents, we'll get similar treatment in return.

Meg

On Aug 2, 2006

I just read the article and was on my way to this site to post it.

I must say, it's awful! What an absolutely condescending attitude this woman has! I just don't know what else to say. Maybe she thinks all people with allergies should be marked with big scarlet A's and sent to live in colonies like lepers.

Great letter GreenLady, please let us know if she responds. Is there anyone else we can write to? Her editor?

On Aug 2, 2006

I tried to write to the author to give her a little education on PA since her research to date seems lacking. Here's what I wrote to the author, I wish I had cc'd the editors but didn't have time to look for them:

Hi Emily,

I read your article "Trees vs. Children". I am glad you wrote this article since it brings the topic of food allergies to the public's attention. I can sympathize with your frustration with trying to figure out what is okay to send for your child's meals given her classmate's allergies, since it's hard for even my husband and me to figure out what is safe to feed our child with food allergy - and this is after 3 years of constantly reading every label of every food we bring into the house.

As a parent of a 5 year old with peanut allergy, I want to share what our child's allergist told us:

Our allergist, who is one of the most respected allergists treating our city's children for food allergies, said that it is ** impossible to predict ** how severe a reaction will be and therefore no matter how mild the last reaction was, the next exposure has the potential to cause anaphylaxis (fatal if not treated, and fatal on some rare occasions even when treated).

So when you say, "it would be a lot easier to accommodate allergies graciously if I felt like I could tell the rationally neurotic parent with the extremely allergic kid from the crazy neurotic parent with the slightly allergic one", the thing is that there is no way that even Doctors can tell the difference between "extremely allergic kid[s]" and "slightly allergic one[s]". Therefore, how can you and I tell whether the child is severely or mildly allergic?

We, as parents of kids with peanut allergy, are told to treat this allergy as if every exposure could be lifethreatening. Now, everyone loves their kids, but what we parents of peanut allergic kids do with this advice makes us all "neurotic" to varying degrees. As to whether we are justified or not, well, I hope never to find out how justified I am in taking the precautions I take to avoid peanut exposure/ingestion in my child.

Respectfully yours,

edited to add: We recently had to chop down a wonderful large shade tree in our yard because I became allergic to it. It had gotten diseased and was right outside our bedroom window resulting in my developing mold allergies - nasal polyps, terrible hard cough, I felt like I had unmanaged asthma (couldn't take a deep breath or wear tight clothes or waistband)for about 4 weeks straight. I didn't share the tree chopping with Emily, she would have been horrified that my internist and allergist both thought I should take out the tree. She would not understand that I really mourn the loss of the tree for the beauty that I saw outside my window through the seasons and how I watched it grow over the years, and how I missed it most recently for the wonderful shade it provided from the afternoon sun.

[This message has been edited by Edinview (edited August 03, 2006).]

On Aug 3, 2006

Edinview -

I really like your letter! You make the same point as I did in a much nicer way. Hopefully she will see the error of her ways and publish a follow-up article.

I still haven't heard from her, or from Dr. Sampson. In addition to writing her, I also sent a note to the "Corrections" department at [email]corrections@slate.com[/email], asking that a medical expert review her article for accuracy.

I'm hoping the long (or at least it seems long) silence is due to their carefully researching the issue. In general, Slate.com is good at following up on reader feedback, and given the level of participation in the "fray" I think that some sort of follow up is likely. I'll be sure and share any information when I get it.

On Aug 3, 2006

Hi Greenlady,

I really hope Emily learns about food allergies from all this. Her article was written from the point of view of someone who knows pretty much nothing about FA - just about where we all started.

Her long response may be because she is inundated by the FA community's feedback.

I can sympathize with parents who feel like this because they are trying to feed their kids - and we are all mammals with this imperative to nurture our young. So of course they behave aggressively if we threaten their ability to feed their young. But with education I hope they can see FA as dangerous and try to help keep everyone's kids safe for the good of society - that's what makes us human and not just mammalian.

On Aug 3, 2006

Wow, well since I'm a crazy neurotic parent, but whose child has a "radically" sensitive allergy, I have to think about this one.

I do know that when my son was first in school (so younger, young), I didn't want "may contains" in the classroom either - not for fear that he would eat them, I just didn't want to take the chance. Three years of school, things went well with the no "may contain" clause. Fourth year, all he** broke loose and after posting here and getting what I thought was great advice, I decided to take the no "may contain" clause out of my guy's written school plan. However, I do know people here that still have that requirement even though their children are older - and hey, that's up to them.

But no, gotta think about the article. That *might* be a *good* thing, I'm not sure.

Best wishes! [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/smile.gif[/img]

------------------ If tears could build a stairway and memories a lane, I would walk up to heaven and bring you back home with me.

On Aug 19, 2006

Well, I sent a follow-up email to Ms. Bazelon, and she finally replied:

I'm sorry that you're upset with me. But in terms of the factual accuracy of the piece, I rechecked what I wrote after I got your email, with the pediatrician and immunologist I'd originally spoken with, who said there was no error. Also, among the minority of readers who wrote to me in support of the piece, four or five were doctors who thanked me and said I'd gotten it right. That's why we didn't post a correction. I realize that you disagree with the point of view I took in the piece, and believe me, you are not the only one. I certainly understand your strong feelings about this issue. Best, Emily

[This message has been edited by Greenlady (edited August 19, 2006).]

On Aug 19, 2006

It's good that she took the time to reply . . . I find it disturbing though that she got positive feedback from the medical community. Not all that surprised though that she did. It would be great if that doctor whom she misquoted would write to her!

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