I have been overwhelmed by the passionate responses and how many of our followers were interested in my blog from September regarding peanut allergies. The blog received over 4400 views in December alone!
Many of the comments focused on how there are many concessions made in schools and other environments for children with peanut allergies and the fairness of such a practice to those without those allergies. In fact, in my children’s’ school, treats consisting of food are not permitted to be brought in to school for holidays or other celebrations. This is in an effort to avoid potentially life threatening events. I support this measure on two levels. I don’t like to reward children with food (as obesity is a huge problem in this country) and for the health benefits of those with allergies.
My thoughts are as follows. As parents, pediatricians, and any adult that serves as advocates for children, it is our responsibility to ensure every child’s safety and well being no matter where they are. In school, on the playground or at home, young children are vulnerable to the dangers of the outside world and as responsible adults; we should protect them from harm.
I view a peanut allergy similar to a child with asthma, diabetes or a seizure disorder. At a young age, they may not recognize what is harmful to their health and well being or what therapies they need to stay safe. As a child grows and developmentally matures, they will and should take on more responsibility for their own care as these health issues last into adulthood. We nurture and care for our young, healthy or otherwise, until they are capable of caring for themselves.
I don’t think we should consider separating those with peanut allergies as ‘punishment’ for anyone. In fact it should raise a level of awareness for children to be sensitive to the needs of others.
In reality, there are many venues where a child can enjoy their peanut butter treats OUTSIDE of school.
The great news for children with any KNOWN or UNKNOWN allergy is on November 13th, President Obama signed into law the School Access to Emergency Epinephrine Act. This encourages states to adopt laws requiring schools to carry extra epinephrine pens ‘in case’ it is needed in an emergency for ANY student. If you recall from my September blog, our current laws state that a student-specific epipen can be kept by the school nurse. For more information go to foodallergy.org.
Peanut allergies remain the number one food allergen in America. This is a serious issue that cannot be taken lightly for children or adults.
Do you agree? I enjoy and appreciate your opinion.