A surprise hidden danger in our schools

By: Dr. Patricia Abboud

Several weeks ago, I was reading about a 13 year old young girl with a peanut allergy who accidentally was exposed to a rice crispy snack iced with peanut butter and chocolate.  Even though she never swallowed the treat, and immediately spat it out, her exposure to the peanut butter was enough to put her in anaphylactic shock and cardiac arrest.

As the school year is starting, this peaked my curiosity as to how safe are our children in school? 

Food allergies are on the rise.  A study from Pediatrics in July 2011 found that 1 of 13 children suffers from food allergy in the US.  More than 1 out of 3 of these children had a history of a severe reaction and 3 out of 10 children had allergies to multiple foods.  The most common cause of food allergies in children include milk, egg, wheat, soy, fish, shellfish, legumes (peanuts), and tree nuts.

The study also quoted that common errors in the management of allergic reactions included, misreading ingredient labels, allergen cross-contact, purposeful exposure, underuse of EpiPens for severe reactions and lack of vigilance.

In the state of Ohio, as of August 13th, the current law does NOT allow EpiPens, a potential life saving treatment, to be in the school and “undesignated”.   The schools CANNOT have ‘extra’ EpiPens on hand to use in an emergency if a new allergy arises or a child forgets his/her EpiPen.  Right now a parent must give permission for the school nurse to administer an EpiPen that’s brought to school by the student.

With the growing number of children suffering from food allergies, the Ohio Association of School Nurses want access to an EpiPen that could be used for any student suffering from a severe allergic reaction to food or a bee sting.  No legislation has been introduced yet, but the Ohio Association of School Nurses is working to draft a bill that could be introduced in the Ohio legislature this fall. Other states have similar laws in place.

What can you do to protect your child with allergies now?


  • Make sure your child is aware of his/her allergies. Discourage him/her from sharing food at the lunch table or snacks.
  • Recognize the signs of a severe allergic reaction:  hives, facial swelling, itching, wheezing, and difficult breathing.
  • Ensure school officials/nursing staff is also aware of your child’s allergies and has access to an Unexpired EpiPen
  • Early use of the EpiPen injected in the thigh muscle (for better absorption) is the most important step in managing anaphylaxis.
  • Call 911 and get the child to the hospital for definitive care.
  • Hyper vigilance is the key.  It could save your child’s life.


For more information visit the Dayton Children’s website!

By: Patricia Abboud, MD – “Dr. Mom Squad”

Dr. Abboud is a pediatric intensivist at Dayton Children’s and the mother of three kids. As part of the “Dr. Mom Sqaud,” Dr. Abboud blogs about her experiences as both as doctor and a mom and hopes to share insight to other parents on issues related to both parenting and kids health. Learn more about Dr. Abboud!

Fleischer DM, Perry TT, Atkins D et al.  Allergic Reactions to Foods in Preschool-Aged Children in a Prospective Observational Food Allergy Study. Pediatrics 2012; 130; e25-e32.


  1. Reply
    Frank Abernathy November 26, 2013

    The increase in a peanut allergies in children makes me wonder exactly what is being used on the peanuts to grow and preserve them. Some chemical residue may be combining with peanut protein to generate this allergic response.

  2. Reply
    lockman November 30, 2013

    What about wearing medical alert tags?

    • Reply
      lockman November 30, 2013

      I know that these are very valuable for caretakers. They are lifesaving devices that are valuable for many medical challenges.

  3. Reply
    MIKE December 1, 2013

    I cant Believe those of you that try to protect the children having an alergic reactions. I was alergic to bee stings,i swelled up like a balloon and could have died, i learned to stay away from them while others still enjoyed themselves around them! i grew up just fine! Why is it someone elses fault for anothers mistake? Does little Billy get an F on his exam for a mistake Sally made on hers? I learned to stay out of the grass where clover grows which attracts bees when it blooms its flowers. Should all playgrounds grass areas not have clover in them for others to enjoy? I remember along with my school mates picking the flower to bite the bottoms off due to the sweet nector inside them. Do we deprive Billy of his favorite treat of peanut butter because Sally dont know to stay away from the things that can hurt her? or the reverse of the 2? Maybe the parants should be held responsible to teach there own children what to stay away from and you should remind them instead of blaming the school! Are you one of those that agreed to take discipline out of our schools as well? Look where that got us. You need to wake up!

    • Reply
      Patti December 9, 2013

      Anyone with nut allergies the scent can set them into a deadly allergic reaction also not just by ingesting. The oils from perfume, lotions, creams and even that peanut butter sandwhich you made for your child that morning. The residue is very hard to get off. I feel this one of the most frightening allergies as it is a silent one. Having the Epi pens available in schools would save a life. The article was not about bashing or blaming it is about educating. Anyone with a food allergy is very educated about what cannot eat but they cannot control what other people wear or eat. Avoidance is almost impossible when it comes to things like that.

    • Reply
      Apryl December 10, 2013

      As a mom with a child who has a food allergy (peanuts) how dare you speak that way. Obviously the child was aware or she wouldn’t have spat it out. My daughter knows what peanut butter looks like and knows to avoid it, and it IS the schools responsibilitt to make sure there isn’t any cross contamination.

    • Reply
      Leeann December 17, 2013

      Well, Mike…what happens a 2 year old who is allergic to peanut butter, is at a party and someone gives him a chocolate cupcake that just so happens to be made with Nutella? Made by a mom or parent that didnt realize this delicious chocoloate spread is made up on hazelnuts? the child eats it and dies….its the 2 year olds fault?? youre a pig.

  4. Reply
    alfonso December 8, 2013

    I agree with mike on the mater.I’m a child with a nut alergee but my school dosent scoled the other child with a product that may be dangerous
    It is rediculuos. The world needs to use there alarm to wake the hell up.

  5. Reply
    alfonso December 8, 2013

    Please reply to my former coment it is mot right to peinalize children of something they enjoy another child may be alergic to.

  6. Reply
    leeann December 17, 2013

    to Mike:
    My nephew is deathly allergic to nuts and he asks about everything he eats but accidents happen. Eliminating peanuts from a school completely isnt ridiculous or out of the question. Why not decrease the chaances all together of something awful happening?? I understand that you cannot eliminate every food group that a child is allergic to but its a scientific fact that peanut allergies are growing and worsening and if there is a way for a child to avoid that food then i think it should be possible. i think your comment is arrogant and pig-headed. Open your eyes.

    • Reply
      Croy Lerondax December 23, 2013

      Read what you wrote. “Eliminiating peanuts from a school completely isnt ridiculous or out of the question.”
      What kind of mentality do you have?It is the PARENTS job to ensure the child lives up to knowledge of their allergies, and refusal of offered goods.It’s the PARENTS role to supply the child with food that can support these allergies, and teach the child DISCIPLINE!NOT the schools, NOT the teachers, NOT people who don’t have allergies.
      Why are you stating that people who don’t suffer from allergies, WHICH IS THE MAJORITY, should be punished? You implied this by stating they should be taken away. What a narrow mind.Non-allergy sufferers don’t need to be made conformist to the will of those with allergies.Shut up and learn your role in society. Obviously you don’t know how the world works. It’s all about you, and your perceptions.

  7. Reply
    T January 4, 2014

    I have never heard these kind of things during my childhood as for my daughter she will continue to take peanut butter to school because that’s all she will eat and has a condition herself that she needs it . Should I not allow her to eat lunch with her personal food because another child can’t stay out of it? If my child wants to eat peanuts for lunch and fruits and snacks that may hurt someone else she still will eat it regardless I teach my children to not share , exchange food at lunch they have the knowledge to not do so and there 5 and 7 . If we teach our kids they will know simple as that ‘

  8. Reply
    Gwendolyn Jessie January 4, 2014

    This past summer a new family moved into our neighborhood. Their little boy came over to play with my son. I believe he was maybe 8 or 9 years old. The first words out of his mouth were “Hi I’m Evan. I’m allergic to peanuts and eggs” . I laughed just because it sounded funny but the reality is these children are drilled from an early age to know what will hurt them and to let others know as well. Now you suggest that little Sally is being punished because little Evan is allergic to peanuts but saving one child’s life by denying another a peanut butter sandwich is not much of a sacrifice. Ply little Sally with all the peanuts her little heart desires when she gets home. Allergic reactions to peanuts don’t just happen when it’s injested, it’s also airborne. I have no allergies and neither do my children but I would sacrifice my child’s love of peanut butter (during school hours) for the safety of another’s child. Why wouldn’t anyone?

  9. Reply
    Matt January 8, 2014

    Maybe we could get rid of the school lunch. The kids could all pack. We would have to be certain that no one shares their lunch. That could be dangerous. And the kids whose parents are too lazy to pack, well… their kids could just starve because there are more important issues at stake.
    Like little Johnny who’s over-protective mom uses chemicals on everything, because she certainly can’t have dirt and germs in her house and now Johnny’s body has no resistence. You all know Johnny, he’s the kid you see in the park riding his bike with elbow pads.
    Of course it’s not the mom’s fault; she blames the schools. Now every other kid suffers while their mom’s have to comb through cookbooks for a recipe that doesn’t have: milk, egg, wheat, soy, fish, shellfish, legumes (peanuts), and tree nuts.

  10. Reply
    m January 10, 2014

    I work in the Schools. They are like little prisons….Peanut, Tree nut, M&Ms, Trail mix….Even Adults are forbidden to have Any *nuts. I’m allergic to Cats but students come in everyday hugging u w/ that dander & *Spray Stinking all over them. Will Parents get rid of their cats for me?

  11. Reply
    Dayton Children's January 10, 2014

    Dr. Abboud has written a new blog in response to all of your comments. Thank you for taking the time to read the Dayton Children’s blog and engage in conversation with us about these important issues. You can see her new blog at http://blog.childrensdayton.org/dr-mom-takes-on-peanut-allergies/

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