Thoughts/Questions from a mother of non-peanut allergic children

Posted on: Tue, 07/20/1999 - 10:13pm
Sheri Gurney's picture
Joined: 07/21/1999 - 09:00

Having just received notice from my son's summer camp that he can no longer bring peanut butter sandwiches, I have read numerous postings on this site with interest. I would say that, although I am not sure I completely agree with this policy, I will certainly abide by it. In his situation, the children sit on their own towels and eat lunch outside. He is 8 years old and most certainly does not wear or smear his food---last year he was required to wash his hands after eating, with the supervision of a counselor. Seems to me this problem can be managed (esp. since the pa child is not in his group)..unfortunately for my child there are only 3 types of cold lunches he likes, and pb&j is number one.
That said, I would like to offer my opinion on the issue of banning peanuts from school.Obviously, I can only express my concern and empathy for those of you trying to cope with this horrible situation, since I don't know what it is like to have to deal with this. Were it my child, I am sure I would be very scared and concerned, to say the least. However, I think it is safe to say that an all-out ban on all types of peanut products would very likely open a can of worms we would all like to remain shut. I have noticed postings from parents of children who have severe allergies to milk; they would be within their rights to demand a ban on milk, as the rights of their children would be no different. And, milk is easily spilled, even when just trying to open the container kids get at school. Then they drink it from a straw, so it can be easily spattered, etc., etc. Can we see where this could lead? I believe it is necessary to remove the obvious/likely exposure products, such as peanut butter, nuts, and most certainly class projects involving them. I also think you can ask the other parents to voluntarily refrain from sending the other items that concern you. The issue of birthday parties has to come from the principal; I don't think celebrations of that type with food should be allowed anyway, and if s/he sent a letter to all parents giving alternatives, that would go a long way towards solving that problem.
A few other thoughts on the school issues (forgive my long-windedness please!): it may be helpful to consider that the accomodations for a wheelchair-bound child and a pa child are simply not the same. PA children require accomodations that directly impact all the other children ( and their parents). You are dealing with an uneducated public, many of whom no doubt have finicky eaters.... my first child had this problem in preschool. The teacher had a kitchen---I tried every option at lunch to get my child to eat (hot food, cold food, leftovers from the dinner he ate the night before, etc.) and he would not eat anything except a peanut butter sandwich. This went on for the ENTIRE school year. What would I have done then if my child couldn't bring that sandwich to school? Should he have been deprived of the right to have lunch? Please recognize that those of us who have kids who eat and like peanut butter are not going to be able to substitute other foods as readily as you might imagine. Your kids have not had nuts, so they are used to it....for young, picky eaters this is a change that can take time. This may account for some of the resistance you are encountering. I am not saying this is right or that I agree, I guess I am trying to say that it will take education, patience, and perseverance on your parts to change these attitudes and habits (as if you didn't know that already!)
As for my questions, I am wondering if there is any research out there as to whether or not the incidence of these severe allergies is increasing? Maybe I am wrong, but I think our children are the "canaries" of our species---our early-warning system, if you will. Here we have a situation where in the last 10-15 years we have some rapid changes occuring with our children. They include: the onset of much earlier puberty combined with children who end up much bigger than their parents; a well-documented increase in the incidence of ear infections; and a big increase in the incidence of asthma. Not to mention that, as a result of ear infections and asthma, our kids spend literally years of their lives ingesting antibiotics and steroidal drugs. I don't know about you, but this scares me! What is going on with all this?? That we should have this many children with life-threatening reactions to the merest exposure to certain substances also indicates some sort of problem with our environment. I think it is up to all of us to put pressure on the medical community to address these concerns via research; maybe then we can have some idea of how to safely treat the problems, perhaps even prevent them in the first place.
Whew, guess I will stop here! Thank you for taking the time to read this, and posting any responses you may have.

Posted on: Tue, 07/20/1999 - 10:36pm
Lou Anne Caputo's picture
Joined: 06/08/1999 - 09:00

pFirst let me start by saying thank you for taking the time to search out information that may help you understand this DEADLY /
I understand the frustration that it may cause someone else that has a child that LOVES peanut butter as much as others Hate it. Not because they may not like the taste but because it may cause them death. In the last 3 weeks there has been 2 deaths and 2 last month related to peanut allergies to children under the age of 17./p
pMy son is 10 years old and has suffred with this disablity all his young life. He has had to be scared into understanding what might happen if he lets his guard down every time he is in public. The first few minutes he enters into a room, it has to be one of exanmination and questions. He can't touch a peanut without going into severe lifte threating /
I took my son out of school last year and home schooled because his teacher decided not to even acknowledge that my son told her he was not feeling well and these symtoms were early stages of his reaction. This year he wants to go back and it is scary!!! Parents have been great up unitl last year when they decided they had rights /
I don't however think that a child should feel that if peanuts are banned that that means he is safe. That is a false securtiy that could lead to a dangerous situation too. I belive that every teacher should have training in CPR and using EPI. I believe that peanut and other severe allergic children should have a safe environment to eat. I don't think food or drinks belong anywhere in the school except in the /
Your child does have rights to eat what he loves, Our children have a right to /
I don't wish anyone to have to live with any affliction, I tell my son all the time he is blessed that this is not cancer or any other disease that could not be controlled at /
Please work with the school and other parents to help them understand we need everyone's help to keep our children safe. A child with just a touch of peanut butter left on his desk , or on his shirt could lead to a nightmare for our kids. Try to understand and support us. Thank you /p
p------------------br /
Lou Anne/p
p[This message has been edited by Lou Anne Caputo (edited July 21, 1999).]/p

Posted on: Tue, 07/20/1999 - 11:14pm
Patti's picture
Joined: 01/27/1999 - 09:00

pI would like to start by saying thank you for taking the time to educate yourself on the issue of peanut allergies. But I must correct you on your milk allergy analogy. In most cases, people with a milk allergy do not suffer life threatening reactions to milk. I had two sons who have a milk allergy. One I used to carry an epipen for. One has since outgrown it and the other has a much higher tolerance to it. Splashing and spilling milk is most likely not going to give a child with a milk allergy an anaphylactic reaction. There are big differences between peanut allergy and other food allergies. I think this is what the majority of the population doesn't understand. One is the amount ingested for a peanut allergy is so small. I have read 1/44,000 of a a peanut can induce a reaction in people. Sometimes simple washing of an utensil is not enough to guarantee the item is peanut free. Peanuts are very sticky. You probably seen or read labels recently that say "may contain" or " manufactured in a facility with" (if not start reading labels) and you will notice it is because just a little amount can kill (yes even airborne dust particles from another item being manufactured in a facility.). Also peanut allergy sufferers are at risk via airborne or touch. Could you imagine that you are in a room with peanuts or a baseball stadium (see summertime fun post) or an airplane, and you have a reaction. Most other food allergies would have to be injested to cause a reaction (and probably not a life threatening one). So this can of worms you are talking about is to my opinion not even a can that can be opened. I am not saying a ban on peanuts is what I believe is the right thing either, but maybe for this camp situation it was the best way they could handle it. Also I must agree on your worry on whats happening with todays kids. Yes peanut allergy is on the rise. So are other things. My peanut allergic daughter (3 1/2) was just diagnosed with Juvenile Diabetes. We have no genetic history so we are looking at environmental factors (cows milk, vaccines etc.) It is such a scary world. Might I also offer this thought to you as well. Did you read the post on peanuts planted in cotton fields (not verified by me) to absorb pesticides. Maybe your picky eater who only eats peanut butter sandwiches shouldn't. Why do 3 million americans have a peanut allergy? Why are shellfish allergies so bad. Are we polluting our waters. I think you are better off with a diet that includes a variety of things. I have learned since dealing with diabetes that picky eaters can be handled. I am sorry I sound so blunt but I have been through a lot lately and I wish the worst of my problems were that my child would only eat one kind of /
Sorry again for sounding so /
pP.S. Also just wanted to comment on your wheelchair analogy as well. You say it doesn't impact on children or parents. Well it impacts us at tax time. We are now in the process of updating all our schools to make them wheelchair accessible. (and I have no problem with this - although I am sure there are people who do - "I don't even have kids in school why must my tax dollars go up etc."). We have to look out for each other. Bottom line. We are the human race. Lets try to be compassionate. Feel fortunate that you are not dealing with any of these problems. And understand that we must all help each other. I wish again this is something we could just throw some extra tax dollars at and make life easier for our kids. Sorry again for the long windeness./p

Posted on: Wed, 07/21/1999 - 12:28am
MaryLynn's picture
Joined: 06/25/1999 - 09:00

pSheri,br /
I have two daughters, my youngest was a picky eater since birth. She never ate very much and had little to no variety in her diet. The ony thing she would eat was Ritz crackers and that was it. She would have two bites for breakfast, one or two crackers for lunch and maybe a bite of her daddy's dinner if she could sit on his lap durring dinner. Luckily she love to eat them with peanut butter as it was her only source of protein for over 3 months!/p
pLet me introduce you to my older daughter. Her name is Jen and she is allergic to peanuts, but no one belived us. I sometimes think my husband never believed it himself, although now after picking us up from the ER in early June he is a very firm believer too. Since her doctor would not take it seriously, I took issues into my own hands and took precautions I now know probably saved her life. I could not use the jar of Jelly thaat the peanut butter knife went in, so I threw it in the garbage and started fresh. When it was time to make a snack for the short nursery program they attended, her snack was made first and my younger daughter's snack waited. I was lucky in that Jen did not seem to react to airborne peanut proteins, but when we changed pediatricians and got an allergist all this had to change. I was told peanut butter is poison, so into the garbage it went. I was left trying to find another source of protein for my little one./p
pI do agree that there are ways for camp and school problems to solve the peanut butter issue esp. as it is a staple in many homes. (I still miss my occ. pbnj.) At my daughter's school thier snacks sit in a wagon outside the classroom door and are taken into the lunch room by a staff member. I will also be requesting a peanut free table as her allergies have become increasingly bad over the past year and a half. I will also make sure I never leave site of a phone where I know the school can reach me and I hope one day to not fly into a panic if the phone rings when my daughter is in school./p
pI do agree with you about camp. Sitting outside on thier own towels and washing thier hands before touching ANYTHING (ie. counselors opening doors and turning on faucets and pumping soap) should have been an acceptable solution. At the same time I don't know what the parent with the peanut allergic camper has been through. How many nights have they sat up wondering if thier child would make it through the night, why thier ins. won't pay for an Epi-Pen but does cover the hospital costs, how many trips they have taken to the ER in the past two months.../p
pThank you for taking the time to read this and trying to be understanding./p
pMary Lynn /p
p[This message has been edited by MaryLynn (edited July 21, 1999).]/p

Posted on: Wed, 07/21/1999 - 2:29am
Sheri's picture
Joined: 07/21/1999 - 09:00

pI would like to thank those of you who have responded so quickly to my posting. Open, honest and respectful dialogues are certainly helpful! You are all helping to open my eyes to how serious and difficult this is to deal with, while still being willing to consider my point of view. Yes, my children do have medical issues, but fortunately they are not of the life-threatening type that your children's are. Again, I can only imagine how scary this must be for you and your children.....with discussions like this, and mutual education and understanding, we can all learn to be more compassionate to each other, and come to solutions that are acceptable to all of us. I will certainly share what I am learning with the other parents of non-pa children./p

Posted on: Wed, 07/21/1999 - 2:41am
anonymous's picture
Joined: 05/28/2009 - 16:42

pSheri - I am very glad to say that you are the first individual I have run into that has had difficulty with a peanut ban. I know you are not alone, as I have heard from other mothers of their difficulties, but let me say you certainly would feel differently if this was YOUR CHILD./p
pI have spent the last month out of work with my one year old because an elderly man gave him a peanut cookie after I asked him not too. My baby almost died because this jerk thought I was being mean. I invite you to walk in my shoes for a day:/p
pBecause I carry the insurance I MUST work. I need to be able to take my child to the hospital or call the EMT's the next time someone doesn't believe me when I say peanuts can kill him./p
pI have to go to work every morning and leave my child with people who have to better than I am at making sure that no one gives my child something he shouldn't have. I have it easy because my home is free of peanuts and nuts, at preschool that concept is nearly impossible. There is a heck of a lot more people to watch at preschool than there is in my home./p
pWe pay more for preschool then I do my mortgage so that I can keep my child in a location that has a RN available on site./p
pWe have had to stop seeing dear friends and family who are not willing to avoid peanut/nut products before visiting us. Or who are unwilling to remove bowls of peanuts from their end tables while we are visiting./p
pMy husband and I are regularly sick because of lack of sleep. Our sons last reaction happen during the night so now we check on him every hour./p
pMy child may never be able to fly because people can't seem to get over the fact that peanuts ARE NOT a necessary part of flying. He will not be able to attend a ball game or sporting event that serves peanuts. He will never be able to eat candy from the grocery store./p
pI honestly don't think I will ever feel safe again until a cure has been found for this allergy./p
pI am very sorry that your child is having trouble finding another item to eat at camp. AT LEAST HE CAN GO TO CAMP!/p
pI don't mean to take my frustrations out on you. At least you were interested enough to seek out more information I think that shows incredible class. [img][/img]/p
pPlease pass the word to other parents that the key to keeping our children safe is their assistance!/p
p------------------br /
Kelly Mbr /
Another Mom in Michigan/p

Posted on: Wed, 07/21/1999 - 3:49am
Greg's picture
Joined: 01/16/1999 - 09:00

pHi Sheri,br /
Thanks for taking the time to voice your opinion. To tell you the truth, it would be nice to have more people with opposing viewpoints tell us what they think on this board. It helps keep us focused and in touch with what the other parents in our community /
I won't respond to every point you brought up since many of the responses before mine sum up what most of us parents think though there are a couple of things I would like to mention. First may I point out about your reference to the wheelchair analogy. While you can argue that wheelchair accommodations do in fact impact others through increased costs,restricted access(handicap stalls and parking spots) and in other ways, these accommodations are based not on how they will impact the other people but on the needs of the individual requiring them. The ADA was not created to minimize the impact of accommodating those with disabilities but to ensure that these individuals have access to all the basic rights that we all enjoy,, /
As to how all this affects parents with picky eaters, I understand your plight. Our second daughter(remember many parents with PA children have other non-PA children as well) is a picky eater herself and getting her to try other foods is no easy task contrary to what many people think. However you must remember we are not asking to banish peanut butter from the world. The children in my PA daughter's class can eat all the peanut butter they want before class,during lunch time,after class and all weekend long if they want to(as long as their parents let them that is). All we ask is not in her classroom or at her lunch table. Let me ask something. What would happen if your child's school banned all peanuts,even at lunch time. Either two things, 1. Your son may,in time get to like other foods or at the very worst 2. refuse to eat anything at lunch and come home a very hungry child. Compare that with our worst case scenario in a school that won't restrict peanuts where our daughter leaves school in a body bag. That may sound a bit graphic but we've been told our daughters peanut allergy is so severe that if she were to ingest any peanut even epinephrine may not be enough to save her. Many of the parents on this board,if not all, are not driven to do what we do by a "it is our right" stance but mostly from the stark terror we experience every day our children leave our homes/p

Posted on: Wed, 07/21/1999 - 4:39am
JenniferDooley's picture
Joined: 07/19/1999 - 09:00

pI thank you for at least looking into what all the commotion is about with this "peanut allergy stuff". But I know exactly where the mom from mich. is comming from. Both my sons have lists of food allergies that would floor almost anyone. you name it, its on our list some more mild than others, so we are on most intersting rotation diets. Yellow stickies have become a life saver for changing food days on calanders. At least both the kids have the same allergies. But my husband and I have none. so we have seperate dinners every night. However thats not the issue. let me start by saying, if in fact the head of a school or a summer camp takes the time to send home a notice about it, it ust be serious.. look at it that way. and its not to say that your "eight year old wears his food" thats not the point. but peanut butter and its oils/ by products of which, are extreamly residule!br /
let me tell you how we found out my sons had this allery, when he was 12 months old, i knew he had asthma already, i was baby sitting for a 4 yr old girl at the time, she ate pb for lunch. then came over right after. the baby was asleep at the time. i took the girl in the pool, and played for some time. at about 4 my son got up and played in his pen for a while at around 6:30 we sat for dinner... rice and turkey.. we all ate it.. at 7;00the little girl wanted to play with the baby.. she was cuddling and kissing him... after having eaten other foods and drinks, and swimming.. 7 hrs later.. she kissed my son on the cheek. his face looked like the elephant man.. honest to god.. his eye swelled shut, and anaphalaxys began his ears were even swollen.. . when he finallly attended preschool... we had a toy contamination problem.. kids ate pb toast for breakfast and came to school... played with a toy.. my son played next.. you get the picture.. so it is not something to argue about.. if you want to fight your schools or camps.. fight about uniforms or transportation issues, but dont put our kids in jepordy/p

Posted on: Wed, 07/21/1999 - 4:53am
Sheri's picture
Joined: 07/21/1999 - 09:00

pTo Greg I would like to say that my wheelchair analogy was not to discuss the intent of ADA. I happen to support the ADA...I have spent many years of my career working with patients who are paralyzed or otherwise disabled feom injury or illness, so I have a good idea of the obstacles they face. What I am trying to get at is that accomodation for a pa child requires everyone to change their behaviors, and this is difficult for some people to do. To Spencer's mom, I ask that you go back and reread what I wrote. I get the impression you feel I am saying that my child's pickiness is of an equal level of importance to your child's allergy, and that I do not support removal of peanuts. This is simply not true! I do not nor would I ever consider the issue of food preferences to be anywhere near the magnitude of pa! I think when you get to the extreme of any position (in this instance, a total ban on any and everything that could possibly contain peanuts) you need to step back and consider carefully what the ramifications are. Also, people need education and a positive approach that asks for their participation and cooperation. Sending out a letter, approaching a teacher/school with a list of forbidden foods simply isn't going to cut it. It is unfair that for now the burden is on you as parents to educate and deal with this in the schools, but for many of you I bet that is the reality. Let me reiterate that I fully intend to honor any and all food bans at camp and school...I point out other viewpoints to try to be helpful in giving you some idea of what makes other people not living with this tick. This should not be contentious....I am not saying I am right and you are wrong, I am just trying to be open. Isn't it better to get all viewpoints out there---how can you bring about positive change if people don't feel free to share their thoughts, but rather keep them inside and let resentments and bad feelings build? The discussion we are having here is a perfect microcosm of what probably goes on at schools...let's all learn something from it!/p

Posted on: Wed, 07/21/1999 - 5:10am
carrie's picture
Joined: 05/15/1999 - 09:00

pMy belief is that all our children have been given to us by God. In fact, they are God's children and we are blessed enough to have them here with us on earth each day. Perhaps if each person had that view, we would be more willing to take care of all our children. If that means that we think about and revise how we handle food in a school setting where our children spend so much time, so be it. We need to remember that these children have special needs and they require extra thoughts and patience, by both adults and their peers. If we all have a faith in the Lord, we would be able to look at this with a better perspective. We are not only on this earth to take care of the children in our home, but also the children in our community. We need to, as a community, realize that peanut butter, in a droplet, could kill some of our children. Therefore, we need to adjust our perspective of it and realize that it is a life and death issue, not an issue about inconvenience../p

Posted on: Wed, 07/21/1999 - 5:32am
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

pThanks for posting your concerns. It is difficult to try to get kids to eat healthy and enjoy camps etc. Though my son has been dealing with allergies all his life and is a VERY PICKER EATER (see Introduction: RickyStory-multiple allergies- all high risk factors) you might be surprized that up to a few months ago I felt more like you and my nephew who lives on pb ate it around Ricky- I washed nephew up afterward. My son has never had a clearly identified reaction to peanut contact. He is off the charts allergic to peanuts. I think the camp has a child that has had reaction without eating pb and that's why they made this request. Won't it be great to let one more child enjoy a camp setting by having peanutbutter loving child(ren) go on vacation from it for camp time- You son could still have pb at dinner etc at your home. /p
pMy son won't be going to camps. He went to a Boy scout day camp last year- but almost all the other kids packed pb sandwiches- One lunchtime his neck reacted to something and became deep red with what looked like a wall of blisters. I don't know if it was reaction to suntan lotion, food, pollens,air-born molds, heat rash, or whatever. I hosed him down etc and he was fine. Other day camps he's been to I have called as to pick him up because of rash and or wheezing. (before a had a EpiPen available to me) So he goes to an unstrucured day-care center where there is AC, has med's available and I send all his food. Ricky is one of the most allergic kids to so many foods,environmental things and he can't get allergy shots. Hasn't had swimmming lessons because June is the worst month for his very dry skin./p
pThanks again for expressing your thoughts and listening to mine. I know you would do everything to help your son stay safe and have fun./p


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