4 year old just diagnosed...school starting...terrified!

Posted on: Sat, 08/29/2009 - 11:45am
sarjama's picture
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Joined: 08/29/2009 - 18:27

Hi,
Well my 4 year old son was just diagnosed yesterday with peanut allergy. I've been paranoid about peanuts since he was born, and have avoided anything peanut until now. I decided I'd try him before school (starts kindergarten in 2 weeks), just to make sure he'd be okay before sending him out into the world! I gave him a tiny smear on a cracker...and sure enough right after he finished eating it he had a reaction, we called 911, went to the hospital, diagnosed with peanut allergy and given a script for an epipen.

My worst fear! I was so diligent in staying away from peanuts during pregnancy and nursing, and before age 3 (well, that's what I read, now I'm doubtful if it's even true). But sure enough..... :(

I am feeling SO stressed out right now. Overwhelmed. Exhausted. We'll have to make an app't with an allergist etc... I'm happy that I stumbled upon this site, looks like there will be a lot of helpful info here. I have a million gazillion questions and don't even know where to start!!! I know that many many people survive peanut allergies...but I'm still terrified...especially with him going off to school for a full day without me!

Off to check out the rest of the forums....
:)

Posted on: Sun, 08/30/2009 - 8:48am
knittingim's picture
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Joined: 08/30/2009 - 14:59

Get the book "The Peanut Allergy Answer Book" by Michael Young, M.D. It has lots of practical information written by a Harvard educated pediatric allergist.
There will be lots of information and misinformation about peanut allergies on many internet forums, and much of it will make you even more anxious about your child going to school. Reputable websites are The Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Network (FAAN) site and the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology (AAAAI) site.
New research has been done since the mid 2000s about peanut allergies in particular because it is so prevalent. A good review article is from the Aug. 2009 Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology entitled "Management of food allergies in schools: A perspective for allergists". The medical journal is sponsored by the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, & Immunology, which is the professional medical association that your allergist should belong to. Unless you have a medical or scientific background, it will not be an easy read. The most pertinant section for your concerns would be whether or not casual skin contacts and inhalation exposures to peanut are life-threatening, and can peanut residue be effectively cleaned.
The conclusions from recent scientific experiments were:
1. Casual skin contact with peanut butter (done by placing 1 gm of pb on intact skin and covering with a patch for 15 min.) caused localized skin reactions in less than half of the kids tested, who all had confirmed peanut allergy by clinical testing. None of the over 200 kids tested had any sort of systemic anaphlaxic reaction.
2. The odor of peanut butter can't cause a reaction b/c protein is necessary for allergic reactions, and pure odor has no protein. Odor that has aerosolized particles, for instance shelling peanuts on an airplane, can be problematic in the severely allergic, especially in poorly ventilated enclosed spaces.
3. Peanut butter residue is easily removed from surfaces with most common household cleansers, and washing hands with soap and water is effective, but hand sanitizer is not. The FAAN website has the link to that article.
Bottom line, ingestion is necessary to cause severe life-threatening allergic reactions, and this goes for all food allergens, not just peanuts. Measures to avoid ingestion are covered in the book and article mentioned above. The article is available on the PubMed website, but you'll need to pay for it unless you are in the scientific or medical field.
Along with dispelling a lot of myths about peanut and other food allergies, the sources emphasize how to respond when an allergic reaction happens. It is very important that you fill that prescription for the Epi-pen, and maybe get more than one so you'll have quick access in case of emergency.
Lastly, work with your school for accommodations for your child. I know many parents want peanuts and nuts banned, but that is completely unenforceable unless every single family at school cooperates and the school polices every lunch and snack. And parents of dairy, egg, soy, etc children would also want the same accommodations if one food allergen is banned, and the kids do have to eat lunch in elementary school. Practical and non-controversial preventative measures that the FAAN and AAAAI recommend are strict enforcement of no food sharing, washing hands after eating, and careful cleaning of eating surfaces after use, in addition to "allergen-free" zones in cafeterias if necessary.
Good luck with your information gathering. I hope access to medically and scientifically based information will make you less stressed out about your situation. I actually brought up the recently published article with a local pediatric allergist to discuss the findings, but since it was very new, she hadn't read it yet. You can have controlled testing to both contact and ingestion done at your allergist's office if you want to see the difference between the two exposures, but it will take a long time, and maybe more than one trip, to the allergist.

Posted on: Sun, 08/30/2009 - 10:40am
sarjama's picture
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Joined: 08/29/2009 - 18:27

Thanks for the info. :)

Posted on: Thu, 09/03/2009 - 9:28pm
Bobbi's picture
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Joined: 03/19/2009 - 09:00

Hi, I'm sorry you had the need to join a support group but trust me, everything will be fine. This is manageable believe it or not. Every time I start feeling overwhelmed and sorry for myself (you will have those moments and it's ok) I remind myself how many people have it so much harder than I do. My dd has multiple food allergies - peanut, tree nut, peas, chick pea, lentil, zithromax, amoxicillan and avoids raw carrot and banana - but so many people have much more difficult allergens to deal with (I couldn't imagine having to avoid milk, soy or wheat, for instance and there are those that have to avoid all of them PLUS nuts/peanuts...unfathomable to me, really). Things will be ok. If you're the praying type, say some prayers for sanity (seriously), the researchers looking for a cure, your young one's safety, the understanding/cooperation of others...you catch my drift...and most of all, don't forget to consciously take slow, deep breaths when you start feeling overwhelmed. This is like a tidal wave hitting you, take your time to adjust.
It's been a (very) few days now, sarjama, how are things going?

Posted on: Thu, 09/10/2009 - 6:24am
sarjama's picture
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Joined: 08/29/2009 - 18:27

Thanks Bobbi!
I've had a bit of time now to digest the news and am not so freaked out. Disappointed, but not freaked! We got an appointment confirmed with an allergist, but it's not until the end of May! So a bit of a wait before we get any more answers, but in the meantime we'll just adjust to a peanut-free lifestyle.
Now I'm just wishing that we tried peanuts earlier before my little guy knew what foods are out there...since now he can't have some of his favourites!
But my son is doing awesome with all this. He'll ask me if something is peanut-free, he looks for the nut-free logos (which I'm happy to see more and more of now that I'm looking!), and is fine if he can't have something, because he knows it could make him sick and he doesn't want that to happen again!
:)

Posted on: Thu, 09/10/2009 - 11:00am
Bobbi's picture
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Joined: 03/19/2009 - 09:00

Holy cow!! From September to May? You'd think they could do something to get you in sooner than that.
I'm glad you're doing better. Beware, it comes in waves though. Don't beat yourself up or second guess the past decisions you've made. The experts don't all agree or know what exactly we should do with regard to whether or not to start them young or avoid completely. There is no way possible that we could.
You sound as though you're doing really well. I'm happy to hear that. It's amazing how these kids adjust and accept so many restrictions when it's all explained to them. My daughter handles it amazingly well, probably better than I would have at her tender age! Of course there are those days when it all just really gets to her and I think that those times seem even more difficult because she deals so well most of the other times.

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