Tuesday, February 22, 2011

About Allergies: Banning Peanuts From School

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From Daniel More, MD, your Guide to Allergies
The idea of banning peanuts from schools is not a new concept. Given that peanut allergy is common and possibly severe, and that accidental exposures to peanuts are common at school, parents of peanut-allergic children would be right to want to ban peanuts from schools. However, there are problems with such an idea. How do we deal with children who are allergic to eggs and milk? What about other common foods, such as wheat and soy? Do we ban these foods, too? How about those children with severe asthma and dog or cat allergy - do we ban children whose families own cats and dogs at home? Do we make these children change into "clean" clothes so that the pet dander on their clothes doesn't trigger another child's asthma? As you can (or should) see, the argument for banning peanuts doesn't hold water - and is a "slippery slope" once you consider the repercussions. A better policy is education of school staff and the other children of a particular child's food allergy, and preparation to deal with anaphylaxis before it happens. Agree with me? Disagree with me? This topic creates a ton of controversy. Share your thoughts.

Preparing the Food Allergic Child for School
Food allergies have been becoming more common over the past few decades, now affecting approximately 4% of all children. Food allergy is a common cause of anaphylaxis at school, with close to 20% of students with food allergies experiencing a reaction. In fact, 25% of children allergic to nuts experience allergic reactions at school even before a diagnosis of food allergy is made. Therefore, it is very important for schools to be prepared to treat allergic reactions in children caused by foods.

Banning Peanuts From School
Peanut allergy has become more common over the past many decades, and is the most common food allergy in school-aged children. Allergic reactions to peanuts can be severe, even potentially life threatening. Unfortunately, accidental exposure to peanuts is relatively common, particularly at school. For these reasons, parents of peanut-allergic children have advocated the idea of banning peanuts and peanut-containing foods in schools.

All About Peanut Allergy
Peanut, scientific name Arachis hypogeal, is a legume that is a common cause of food allergies. Peanut allergy is known to potentially be very dangerous and even life-threatening, particularly in adolescents and young adults, as well as in people with asthma.
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Daniel More, MD
Allergies Guide
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