Nut-allergy sufferers face prejudice

Discussion in 'Parenting News' started by runawaybunny, Sep 3, 2011.

  1. runawaybunny

    runawaybunny Guest

    Life-threatening nut allergies viewed as 'frivolous and self-indulgent fad'

    Parents of nut-allergy sufferers face hostility and scepticism in trying to find safe environments for their children, a new study has found.

    Researchers found that parents are routinely made to feel by friends and even family that their child's nut allergy is a 'frivolous and self indulgent fad invented and maintained by attention-seeking people.'

    Children in the study described how they were bullied by classmates saying, "I've got nuts and I'm gonna touch you!"

    The research by a team from the University of Leicester, the London School of Economics and Political Science, and the Children's Allergy Clinic at University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust has found that children suffering from potentially deadly nut allergies often struggle with negative attitudes and unhelpful food labelling.

    Funded by Midlands Asthma and Allergy Research Association (MAARA), the researchers interviewed 26 families about the techniques and strategies they use to cope in various situations. Their findings, published in the journal Chronic Illness, point to a need to raise awareness of the dangers associated with nut allergy.

    Professor Mary Dixon-Woods from the University of Leicester Department of Health Sciences said: "Nut allergy was a frightening experience for most families. One mother described how her son's eyes "swelled up completely so you could hardly see his pupils.," . This child, like many others in the study, had to be rushed to hospital after his first reaction.

    Parents in the study described taking multiple precautions to ensure their child was safe, including creating nut-free environments at home. But when they tried to get others to cooperate in keeping their child safe from nuts, they could encounter hostility and scepticism. "People's approaches ranged from scepticism, disbelief and in some cases complete lack of care, which could put the child in danger," said author Dr Emma Pitchforth.

    One parent said receiving birthday party invitations was a "nightmare" because other children's parents think nut allergy "is a bit faddy," and don't realize it can be life-threatening. Other parents described incidents where they suspected that people – including family and friends – had deliberately given their child nuts to test if the allergy was real.

    Nut allergy was a source of ongoing anxiety for families, who can find themselves socially isolated and excluded. "Families felt they could never fully rely on anyone, including friends and relatives", said Janet Willars, who interviewed the families. "Despite their best intentions, friends and families were not always able to give full attention to the child's safe-keeping."

    Vague packaging on foods and uninformed service staff at some restaurants and supermarkets all added to families' problems. It was sometimes so hard to find out whether food contained nuts that families resorted to cooking every meal from scratch and never eating out or accepting invitations to social occasions, say the researchers.

    The research team includes Dr David Luyt, a consultant who diagnoses and treats children with allergies in Leicester. He recommends better public education about the dangers of nut allergy. "These parents and children see a society that is willing and able to accommodate vegetarians and many others with dietary restrictions, but not them," he said. "This research is a wake-up call for improvement in food production and labelling to help families and children maintain a safe environment and reduce stress and difficulties," he added.


    Story Source:
    The above story is reprinted from materials provided by University of Leicester.

    This article is not intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Views expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of ConductDisorders or its staff.
  2. keista

    keista New Member

    I am so not surprised. Back in the spring, there was a gang of moms that actually protested a school because their kids had to *gasp* wash their hands after lunch and snacks! Some ppl just have too much time on their hands.
  3. svengandhi

    svengandhi Well-Known Member

    When my youngest son was in 2nd grade, 4 different children (including my own) tried to sneak in various different nuts to give to the biggest bully in the grade, who had a nut allergy. My son asked me for a PB & J sandwich for snack one day. I was surprised because he is like me and HATES PB. I asked him why he wanted it and he said to share with X. I also can't stand the child or his mother BUT I'm an adult and I was aware of his allergy. My son did not get a PB sandwich that day or any other day. We did have a long talk about what allergies really mean. He felt a little bad but still kept hoping someone else would get him! I asked the school to never put them in the same class again after that.

    A girl asked her mom to make PB cookies. She also knew about the allergy and since the kid bullied this girl, too, she also had a reason to dislike him. The mom made oatmeal raisin cookies instead.

    Another boy snuck in a bag of peanuts and put it in the boy's desk. He saw it and called the teacher over. None of the other kids ever disclosed who the culprit was.

    My friends and I wonder why this boy's mother doesn't try to get him to be nicer so other kids wouldn't be plotting to try to off him. The child is NOT on the spectrum, he has no Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD) or anything, he is totally neurotypical, just a nasty little jock POS from a rich family with an entitled attitude.

    At our HS, there is now a no peanut rule for some unknown child. My boys wouldn't dream of bringing anything in even though they have no clue who the kid is.
  4. keista

    keista New Member

    The parents created a monster and don't know how or don't care to fix him.

    I don't condone the kids thoughts, but that's very clever for second graders to think of that kind of "revenge". At that age the full scope and concept of "offing someone" has not yet formed. They're just looking for relief from the bullying.
  5. donna723

    donna723 Well-Known Member

    I guess it is a bit hard to buy for some people because this was virtually unheard of when some of us were kids. In fact, when we were kids the schools got tons of government surplus peanut butter and we got it in some form almost every day.

    My daughter and sister in law found out the hard way that my 2-1/2 year old grandson is allergic to peanuts when he was around 20 months old. She's a nurse and at his age she would never intentionally give him peanuts or peanut butter anyway. But she was coming home from work one night and was running late so she stopped by their favorite fast food joint and bought hamburgers and fries to take home. Ethan was tired and grumpy and to distract him, she gave him one little french fry to nibble on. When she got home, less than a half mile from the hamburger place, she went to take him out of his car seat and saw that his whole little face was swelling up and they rushed him right to the ER! Nothing like watching your toddler's face blow up like a balloon to scare the hell out of you! The next day when things had calmed down they went back to the hamburger place and asked and sure enough, they cook their french fries in peanut oil! Most restaurants don't use it at all any more but this one place still did!

    That's what's so scary about it! It's easy enough to make sure they don't get peanut products at home, a little more difficult when they're in school. Most daycares and schools don't serve it at all any more but you never know what they will get from other kids. And peanut oil can show up in almost anything! Now they have to carefully read every label when buying groceries and ask in every restaurant when they order for him to make sure that nothing is cooked in peanut oil!

    There's nothing "frivilous" or "self-indulgent" about Ethan's peanut allergy. He didn't make his face swell up just to be fashionable or trendy! He's TWO, for Pete's sake! If he had a reaction and wasn't treated soon enough his airway could close up and he wouldn't be able to breathe! I'm amazed that people would disbelieve the parents about it and actually give a child something with peanuts in it just to prove them wrong! Who would risk a childs life like that just to be "right"? But then, almost nothing surprises me any more!
  6. InsaneCdn

    InsaneCdn Well-Known Member

    The hardest part with things like nut allergies, is that to accomodate one (small) set of students' needs, another (small) set of students gets their needs trampled on.
    And there IS no easy solution.
    But it really is hard to take when it is MY child being trampled on.

    OK, I can understand banning peanuts. The highest proportion of nut allergies are peanuts, and there are LOTS of other nuts that can be substituted. We could live with this.

    But no...
    In a city with multiple highschools, every single school is required to be 100% nut free - ALL nuts - tree nuts, ground nuts - no peanuts, almonds, soybeans, pine nuts - no NUTTIN.
    Every Single School???

    And the kid who has multiple medical conditions and requires a healthy balanced snack with a critical balance of protein, carb, fat and fibre between every single class... can't get that. Because it is impossible to meet all 4 requirements with something palitable that can be eaten on the run between classes... unless you use nuts. So by second period, he's zoning out due to blood sugar problems - followed by teachers making him look like an idiot because he isn't paying attention - followed by bullying by the other kids at recess... (drinking Ensure guarantees being beaten up - and it doesn't meet the required balance)

    And when we try to advocate for this? "Your childs needs are so extreme and so specialized that there is no way to accomodate his needs. He either needs to learn to cope with the situation, or you need to home school him."

    Yes I get it that nut allergies can be life threatening.
    So is suicide - from the extreme on-going treatment at the hands of teachers and students.

    Yes parents and students dealing with severe allergies (not just nuts - there are other food triggers too) face huge push-back from the general population.
    So do we. We've had snacks stolen from back-packs during class, with the teacher watching - AFTER the teacher is aware of the problem and the need for the snacks - and the teacher just says "no kid needs that many snacks - what else do you expect if you bring food to class?" I can't show up every 55 minutes with the next snack to be eaten outside of school with a handwash before returning... all in 5 minutes.

    Ban peanuts everywhere - other nuts (and other key foods depending on need) from a published, limited cross-section of schools - and provide free transportation to students with either set of needs who cannot use the nearest appropriate school (not all schools have all programs, but most programs are in at least 2 schools)
    Is it too much to ask that we find ways to accomodate ALL the dietary needs of ALL of our students in a practical manner?
    Apparently so.
  7. svengandhi

    svengandhi Well-Known Member

    Keista -

    You are so right. The parents created a monster. You are also right that all the kids wanted was to be left alone. My son was actually horrified later on when he was able to understand that death is forever.

    Insane -

    Maybe you can leave a bag of nonperishable snacks in an administrator's office (not the nurse because the allergic kids could go there)and your child can go and eat there when he needs to. Leave a box of wipes so he can clean up quickly. If your son's health issues are serious as you say, he needs to be protected too.
  8. keista

    keista New Member

    Insane, I do feel for you. I think your district is being ridiculous banning nuts of all kinds from schools as a blanket rule. That is absolutely unnecessary. What are they going to ban next? Strawberries? Milk? By comparison, your difficult child's needs are NOT that extreme or specialized. If I knew for a fact that there were no kids with nut allergies in my kids' school, I'd go difficult child my self and be sending them in with nuts.
  9. donna723

    donna723 Well-Known Member

    I can see banning peanut products in daycares and elementary schools. I think allergies to other nuts are pretty rare though. Peanut allergies are so common now and could be deadly so I can understand that. But I really don't understand the others. They can't ban every food that any child could possibly be allergic to!

    But I don't understand it at the high school level at all! A child who is old enough to be in high school is old enough to know what foods he may be allergic to and just not eat them! Personal responsibility has come to in there somewhere! It's not like two first graders trading a bologna sandwich for a peanut butter sandwich!
  10. InsaneCdn

    InsaneCdn Well-Known Member

    The problem with high-school is the kids move for EVERY class, and can eat lunch anywhere in the school. They share desks (as in, its kid1's desk in periond 1, and kid57's desk in period 2, etc.). Music stands. Whatever else. Some of the peanut allergy kids, in particular, are at risk from environmental peanut oil... somebody munching peanuts then running down the stairway with hand on rail, leaving trail of peanut oil... student with allergy uses handrail on way to eating lunch... and gets enough from that to be a problem.

    As I said - peanuts I can understand. Even in High School. Even if you want to eliminate from EVERY high school.

    But the rest of the whole nut family? Please?? Pretty Please???
    That's the ban that I just don't get.
    Oh well.

    If it becomes too much of an issue for MY kid, then I'll go into warrior mom stage.
    If he can wiggle through without... I've got enough other warrior mom battles to fight.
    C'est la vie.