More school battles about peanut allergies

11 Aug

Moi wrote about allergies in Food allergies can be deadly for some children:
If one is not allergic to substances, then you probably don’t pay much attention to food allergies. The parents and children in one Florida classroom are paying a lot of attention to the subject of food allergies because of the severe allergic reaction one child has to peanuts. In the article, Peanut Allergy Stirs Controversy At Florida Schools Reuters reports:

Some public school parents in Edgewater, Florida, want a first-grade girl with life-threatening peanut allergies removed from the classroom and home-schooled, rather than deal with special rules to protect her health, a school official said.
“That was one of the suggestions that kept coming forward from parents, to have her home-schooled. But we’re required by federal law to provide accommodations. That’s just not even an option for us,” said Nancy Wait, spokeswoman for the Volusia County School District.
Wait said the 6-year-old’s peanut allergy is so severe it is considered a disability under the Americans with Disabilities Act.
To protect the girl, students in her class at Edgewater Elementary School are required to wash their hands before entering the classroom in the morning and after lunch, and rinse out their mouths, Wait said, and a peanut-sniffing dog checked out the school during last week’s spring break….
Chris Burr, a father of two older students at the school whose wife has protested at the campus, said a lot of small accommodations have added up to frustration for many parents.
“If I had a daughter who had a problem, I would not ask everyone else to change….

More children seem to have peanut allergies.

Ross Brenneman wrote in the Education Week article, How Peanuts Became Public Health Enemy #1:

Researchers aren’t sure why, but over the past several years, the number of children reported to have allergies has doubled, to 5 percent of children in the United States. Yet at the same time, in schools and elsewhere, allergies have drawn what some see as an oversized amount of attention. A new paper out of Princeton University explores why that may have happened.
Allergy attacks are awful. I’ve been there plenty of times. Eyes swollen shut, coughing, hacking, sneezing—and that’s just garden-variety pollen. But severe allergic reactions, also known as anaphylaxia, can cause death, even for the constantly vigilant. That’s why the U.S. House of Representatives voted unanimously last week in favor of a bill that would incentivize states, through a pre-existing grant program, to make sure their schools have a supply of epinephrine (usually an EpiPen) on hand, as well as staff members trained in using it.
The de facto allergen mascot, the peanut, has been at the forefront of anti-allergy crusades. Several schools have banned peanuts, sports arenas have set up “peanut-free” zones, and pretzels long ago committed a coup d’état against their salty brethren aboard airlines. The public response and media coverage at times suggests an epidemic.
One percent. That’s it. One estimate pegs it closer to 1.4 percent for children, but only .6 percent for adults. Either way, it’s small. Not all of those affected are seriously allergic, either. One percent isn’t nothing, but it’s not the kind of number that would suggest a strong cultural reaction, either.
Why, then, have peanut allergies become such a well-known public health menace? Maybe it’s partly from the mystery surrounding all allergies; scientists don’t know why allergies exist and why some people grow out of them. It’s also not clear how much an allergy attack may be exacerbated by asthma; the two often go hand in hand.
That allergies carry even some of the same the notoriety of a true epidemic, like typhoid, AIDS, or smallpox, intrigued Princeton University researcher Miranda R. Waggoner.
In a paper set to be published in the August 2013 edition of the journal Social Science & Medicine, Waggoner explores the momentum behind society’s Planters paranoia.
Medical journals first discussed peanut-based anaphylaxia in the late 1980s, while more and more parents separately but simultaneously started banding together to promote allergen awareness, assisted by speculation within the press about a new, interesting, and potentially hazardous health problem.

Kids With Food Allergies has some excellent resources.

Kids With Food Allergies recommends the following 10 TIPS TO A HEALTHY STUDENT-SCHOOL PARTNERSHIP:

1. Pick your battles.
Many issues will arise. Non-negotiable ones will need to be dealt with immediately. Negotiable ones let you work to keep your child safe, while also allowing the school to accomplish what they are trying to accomplish.
2. Provide solutions.
If your child’s principal wants all students to bring in milk jugs for an arts and crafts project, ask if your child’s class can bring in water jugs (or orange juice, lemonade or iced tea jugs instead). Planning in advance can work for class parties, too. If your child’s teacher wants to throw an ice cream party, ask if water ice or a safe sorbet could work instead. Many times, activities that appear to be blatant disregard for your child’s situation are caused by a lack of education about food allergies. Explain the severity of the situation to your child’s teacher and/or school officials, or offer to find an expert to present the topic of food allergy at a teacher meeting. Offer alternative suggestions so teachers consider asking you for advice prior to the event!
3. Smile and stay calm (if only for appearances).
It’s true. You really do catch more bees with honey. If you have a give-and-take relationship with the school and show appreciation when events go right, they will be more apt to help you next time.
4. Get support.
You can’t do this alone. Involve your spouse, family, friends and people you trust. Sometimes a nurse from the allergist’s office will agree to accompany you to meetings or speak to a group. If this is possible, make sure you are on the same page first—with regard to diagnosis and treatment as well as your expectations of the school.
5. Get it in writing.
Make sure you trust and feel confident in your child’s allergist, and try to keep your relationship a positive one. Get the best possible documentation you can from your allergist.
6. Keep your child’s self-esteem in mind.
Always consider what is in the best interest of your child. Sometimes it is healthier for you to forfeit a conflict now, so that you don’t alienate someone who could help you down the road. There are many creative ways to allow your child to participate safely without changing the activity for the rest of the class.
7. Become an expert in substitutions.
Have your child’s teacher tap your very creative brain any time food is used in a lesson. Then, be observant and creative. Next time a teacher wants to use washed-out cream of mushroom soup cans to hold the scissors, suggest washed-out Play-Doh containers…and provide them, if possible.
8. Grow a thick skin.
Your child’s teacher may try their hardest to convince parents not to send their child in with a peanut butter cup or Cheetos for a school snack. But, sadly, there will always be one or two people who are difficult to convince. It’s not an excuse; it’s reality. Try not to take it personally.
9. Show you care.
Let other parents know that you would make the same accommodations for their child—and follow through. Sometimes the school is responding to outside pressure from parents who insist on keeping the school “normal.” Showing that you are a team player can alleviate the pressure.
10. Say “Thank you” when things go right.
Food allergy awareness greeting cards can be used to express appreciation and thanks to school staff.
Show your heartfelt appreciation any time another parent, child, teacher or school staff member goes out of their way to help make life easier for you or your child. If the classroom keeps special snacks all year long to help keep your child safe, sponsor a “thank you” party, safe snack or game time at the end of the year. Send flowers or a card to the principal or school nurse. Donate a food allergy book to the school library. Or start out a meeting by thanking the attendees for being there to listen and help.

It requires a great deal of tact and give and take on the part of parents and the school to produce a workable situation for students, the child with the allergy, and parents.

A physical examination is important for children to make sure that there are no health problems. The University of Arizona Department of Pediatrics has an excellent article which describes Pediatric History and Physical Examination The article goes on to describe how the physical examination is conducted and what observations and tests are part of the examination. The Cincinnati Children’s Hospital describes the Process of the Physical Examination
If children have allergies, parents must work with their schools to prepare a allergy health plan.


Micheal Borella’s Chicago-Kent Law Review article, Food Allergies In Public Schools: Toward A Model Code

Click to access Borella.pdf

USDA’s Accomodating Children With Special Dietary Needs

Click to access SpecialDietaryNeeds.PDF

Child and Teen Checkup Fact Sheet
Video: What to Expect From A Child’s Physical Exam
Where information leads to Hope. © Dr.
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One Response to “More school battles about peanut allergies”


  1. Parents, Humans… lend her your ear!!! | Creating J.Lyn - August 13, 2013

    […] More school battles about peanut allergies ( […]

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