Allergies?

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AlyssaEimers's picture
Joined: 08/22/06
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Allergies?

This evening I am babysitting a little girl with a nut allergy. Her sister also has a milk and soy allergy. This developed a conversation between me and DH and I was curious how this would play out on here.

In a classroom setting should all children with allergies be in the same class? Should the school have to provide an allergy free lunch, or should the parents need to pack a lunch and snack? Should other children be able to bring in allergy foods in their own lunch?

Joined: 12/10/05
Posts: 1681

Ahhh... Hotly debated questions.

Grouping all the allergic kids together wouldn't be feasible in many settings. My kids school is far to small for something like that to work.

Should schools provided allergy free lunches? Schools here don't provide lunches or have cafeterias so I can't say. I would think not? However, my cousin had multiple anaphylaxis allergies and there is NO WAY she would eat food prepared by someone else. Way too high a risk of contacting something that could kill her.

While it is a pain to tailor my kids lunches to the allergies in the class, I don't mind because I recognize the dangers for those kids. Our school doesn't have an outright ban on nuts and things like that, but has separate rules for each class as needed, which I think is a reasonable way to deal with allergies. Last year DS didn't have any allergies in his class, but DD couldn't bring nuts or oranges.

Joined: 03/08/03
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"kris_w" wrote:

Ahhh... Hotly debated questions.

Grouping all the allergic kids together wouldn't be feasible in many settings. My kids school is far to small for something like that to work.

Should schools provided allergy free lunches? Schools here don't provide lunches or have cafeterias so I can't say. I would think not? However, my cousin had multiple anaphylaxis allergies and there is NO WAY she would eat food prepared by someone else. Way too high a risk of contacting something that could kill her.

While it is a pain to tailor my kids lunches to the allergies in the class, I don't mind because I recognize the dangers for those kids. Our school doesn't have an outright ban on nuts and things like that, but has separate rules for each class as needed, which I think is a reasonable way to deal with allergies. Last year DS didn't have any allergies in his class, but DD couldn't bring nuts or oranges.

I agree with this and I'm glad our school has the same policy. For snack, it's based on the specific classroom. My son has one friend with nut allergies so in the years they have been in the same class together, we can't send snacks with nuts in them. Nobody has a problem with it, we all get why it's important. At lunch, they just have the kids with allergies sit at the same table, and if someone else wants to join them, they have to have a nut-free lunch that day.

I don't know if they serve any food with nuts at school. I hate the meals there but my son loves them so he does get them a couple of times a week. For me that issue depends on what the allergies are. I think if kids have wheat problems it's not fair to ban all wheat-based products. If a kid is very little then the teachers can help look after them and when they get older they know not to eat those things anyway. But you can't ban sandwiches school-wide.

As kids get older, it's often less of an issue as they are not going to take any risks, but until then, I think the community needs to help out how they can without going to unnecessary extremes, like banning everything.

The school shouldn't be responsible for having to provide an allergy-free lunch all the time. That's really the parents' job. I'd say if you have a large number of kids with the same allergy, it might make sense then.

I prefer a moderate approach based on the specifics of the kids and their situations, and not some school-wide policy that is meant to address any and all issues in one blow.

AlyssaEimers's picture
Joined: 08/22/06
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See I think a nut allergy is a reasonable accommodation. But, how would you deal on a school wide basis with someone who was allergic to both milk and soy. That limits a HUGE amount of foods. I never even realised how many until I tried to cook something for this family. One the other hand, how sad for the child.

Joined: 05/23/12
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If a child has other dietary needs, parents need to send their food. I would be willing to avoid outright nuts, but milk, soy, wheat etc is pushing it because that is affecting nutricious food choices for all kids. My heart breaks for these kids with allergies. I cant imagine what they have to learn to endure and how left out they must feel sometimes.

PatienceW's picture
Joined: 08/06/08
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My nephew has nut/milk/wheat/protien/EVERYTHING allergies... I am not sure how they handled it in school (I know he couldn't even use the soap at school bc it had milk product in it) but I know at home it was hard when we had family get togethers. My son is allergic to nuts and I just keep him away and have trained him to ask. Our elementary school has tables that are allergy free. we have one student that is so allergic that all of the kids have to come back from lunch and wash hands with soap (not sanitizer) after lunch because if they touch a pencil, book etc he can have a reaction. Young kids are almost used to it now and they handle it well in school. they just "go with it" as far as the ones that don't have the allergies because we have taught them the seriousness of it.

Joined: 05/13/02
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I'm fine with not sending peanuts/peanut-trace foods. Now what's gotten tough is that we're not even supposed to send things with milk/nuts/gluten - my boys loved taking granola bars and cereal bars (nut-free), but now those are out of the menu as well as most of the other easy snack things. I'm definitely having to get more creative!

Joined: 08/17/04
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Things like peanut allergies where oil can be touched and breathed in and cause a reaction I'm okay with.

Things like everyone is gluten free because so and so is GF because he/she has Crohn's not okay with it. Parents responsibility to teach child to not eat other's food or food they didn't prepare.

mom2robbie's picture
Joined: 01/20/07
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Pretty much all Canadian schools are nut-free which I can understand and support. A lot of people think because I have food allergies it includes nuts but that is the one thing I am not allergic to. I grew up with a sister with a peanut allergy when it was pretty rare to have peanut allergies.

If it is an anaphylaxis reaction (like peanuts) I can see restricting it in the school, otherwise I do not think it is an issue. I have an anaphlytatic reaction to fish/shellfish but only if I touch it or someone touches me after having fish/shellfish. Other people can eat it in my presence but DH and Robbie can not eat it.

PatienceW's picture
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"mommydearest" wrote:

I'm fine with not sending peanuts/peanut-trace foods. Now what's gotten tough is that we're not even supposed to send things with milk/nuts/gluten - my boys loved taking granola bars and cereal bars (nut-free), but now those are out of the menu as well as most of the other easy snack things. I'm definitely having to get more creative!

so your kids cant even take a ham and cheese sandwich or string cheese? I don't agree with that! That is taking it a bit far in my opinion. some kids only eat that kinda of stuff!

Alissa_Sal's picture
Joined: 06/29/06
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My son's preschool has a allergen free table, and they split the kids up so that kids who don't have nuts/other allergens in their lunch can sit at the nut free table too (basically, they make sure to split it up so that the kids with allergies aren't sitting at a table by themselves.) All the kids bring their own lunch, but the school provides a mid morning snack which is allergen free. The school's philosophy is that the world is not nut free, so kids have to learn to be safe with their allergies, and they help facilitate that. I think that is a reasonable approach to take. I actually think about that when I'm packing T's lunches, and I intentionally try to limit the amount of "nut" lunches I pack so that T can sit with his friends at the nut free table too. I would go completely nut free if they asked us too, but I'm glad they don't because since he goes to a Jewish preschool, we have to pack kosher dairy meals (no meat) so limiting nuts would limit us further.

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"PatienceW" wrote:

so your kids cant even take a ham and cheese sandwich or string cheese? I don't agree with that! That is taking it a bit far in my opinion. some kids only eat that kinda of stuff!

It's okay for lunch, but for the snacks they eat in the classroom they're very limited. There's no "mandate", but we're strongly encouraged to bring allergy-free foods. I'm going to be screwed when some kid with a banana allergy is in their class! That's my go-to when we're low on the other "safe" things.

Joined: 12/10/05
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Oh, classroom limitation should definitely be limited to anaphylactic/severe reactions. Otherwise, children should just learn not to eat or touch food besides what their parents have packed for them (and I think in situations with severe reactions even very young kids know this).

PatienceW's picture
Joined: 08/06/08
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oh ok. I thought you meant in the cafeteria.... I have fruit allergies in my class now. raspberries, last year I had a mango allergy. I have taught my 3 yr old to ask about nuts. so yes they can be taught young. now I have to add mango into it bc the allergist said there can be a cross reaction with tree nuts and mangos

ClairesMommy's picture
Joined: 08/15/06
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"mommydearest" wrote:

It's okay for lunch, but for the snacks they eat in the classroom they're very limited. There's no "mandate", but we're strongly encouraged to bring allergy-free foods. I'm going to be screwed when some kid with a banana allergy is in their class! That's my go-to when we're low on the other "safe" things.

Same here. There's no peanut-free rule in our schools, because I think it would be almost impossible to eliminate all foods coming into the school with even a trace of peanuts or peanut oil. We're just strongly advised to not send peanut products with the kids.

tink9702's picture
Joined: 09/28/08
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"PatienceW" wrote:

oh ok. I thought you meant in the cafeteria.... I have fruit allergies in my class now. raspberries, last year I had a mango allergy. I have taught my 3 yr old to ask about nuts. so yes they can be taught young. now I have to add mango into it bc the allergist said there can be a cross reaction with tree nuts and mangos

Watch out for Avocados too. We've had reactions to them.

This hits close to home as DS is peanut and tree nut allergic. DD was also dairy sensitive for the first year of her life. I have a friend who refuses to believe that it's as serious as it is. She always complains about no peanut butter sandwiches when we get together (which is 3-4 times a YEAR, since they live so far away). It pisses me off because my son could die. Just please find another lunch option for one day?!

It's a little different when it is school. I think a separate table where any kid can go is a good solution. It's the family's responsibility to provide food the child can eat IMO. I do think the school needs to provide information about snacks/lunches so that the family can properly decide if the child can have that snack/lunch. For example, my daycare provides lunch for the kids. When DD was milk sensitive I was forever asking questions about how the food was made. For example, mashed potatoes can be made with milk/butter, or they can be made from a box with water (ick!). I needed to know which way they were made so it was frustrating if they can't tell you that. I'm not looking forward to grade school and all the questions I'll need to ask then.

it's easy to teach my son to not eat nuts or peanut butters, but looking out for peanut oil...that's difficult at 3 years old, or shoot even 7 I'd think!

AlyssaEimers's picture
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"Claire'sMommy" wrote:

Same here. There's no peanut-free rule in our schools, because I think it would be almost impossible to eliminate all foods coming into the school with even a trace of peanuts or peanut oil. We're just strongly advised to not send peanut products with the kids.

At the school DH works at there is over a thousand students. There are signs in the parking lot that no peanuts or products are aloud on school property. I just do not see how you could possibly do that with other allergies like milk.

PatienceW's picture
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Mel thanks for the avacodo warning. the allergist did not mention anything about that. he did tell us we can eat at chick fila because the peanut oil they use is ok (because of how it is processed) though I still have not tried it!

ClairesMommy's picture
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"AlyssaEimers" wrote:

At the school DH works at there is over a thousand students. There are signs in the parking lot that no peanuts or products are aloud on school property. I just do not see how you could possibly do that with other allergies like milk.

Asking children not to have milk at school would be unreasonable, IMO. And from what I've learned about allergies and all the testing DS went through, a peanut allergy is much more common than a true milk allergy. I'm not talking sensitivity or intolerance - I mean an allergic reaction that can cause anaphylaxis. The increasing prevalence of allergies in kids is shocking to me. Not a single student in any of my classes from K - 12 was allergic to nuts or dairy or strawberries or bee stings. Then again, I'm old.

AlyssaEimers's picture
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"Claire'sMommy" wrote:

Asking children not to have milk at school would be unreasonable, IMO. And from what I've learned about allergies and all the testing DS went through, a peanut allergy is much more common than a true milk allergy. I'm not talking sensitivity or intolerance - I mean an allergic reaction that can cause anaphylaxis. The increasing prevalence of allergies in kids is shocking to me. Not a single student in any of my classes from K - 12 was allergic to nuts or dairy or strawberries or bee stings. Then again, I'm old.

I do agree that it seems that there are more allergies today then when I was young. The little girl I was referring to truly is allergic to milk and soy. She is also full of birth defects though. She has a rare genetic disorder that causes a host of problems including being profoundly Deaf, cleft pallet, and a ton of GI issues.

Joined: 03/08/03
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"Claire'sMommy" wrote:

Asking children not to have milk at school would be unreasonable, IMO. And from what I've learned about allergies and all the testing DS went through, a peanut allergy is much more common than a true milk allergy. I'm not talking sensitivity or intolerance - I mean an allergic reaction that can cause anaphylaxis. The increasing prevalence of allergies in kids is shocking to me. Not a single student in any of my classes from K - 12 was allergic to nuts or dairy or strawberries or bee stings. Then again, I'm old.

I am also curious as to why allergies have increased so much. There was none of this when I was a kid. So either people didn't talk about it or it wasn't happening, or people just dealt with it and didn't make it everyone else's responsibility. Strawberries, for example, is a common allergy in small children but not something that would affect OTHER people eating strawberries.

I also think that the vast majority of nut allergies are just about that kid eating nuts, and not about being touched. I mean, these kids are out in public, or on public transportation, in playgrounds, lots of places where nuts are consumed. Sometimes they still give them out on airplanes. I think there are serious scary allergies at that level, but there is also hysteria around the slightest bit of discomfort on the smaller end, and the hysteria is what makes people callous instead of caring, because they're frustrated by it.

ClairesMommy's picture
Joined: 08/15/06
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This article makes a lot of good points about the dramatic increase in allergies:

Why are food allergies on the rise? - CNN.com

Spacers's picture
Joined: 12/29/03
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Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act is a federal civil rights law that prohibits discrimination against individuals with disabilities; in schools, this law guarantees a child with life-threatening allergies access to a free and accessible public education in the least restrictive environment. However, the courts have repeatedly said that accomodating one student's allergies can not put an undue burden on the other students and parents. Here's how it works in our school district. None of the prepared foods in the cafeterias or vending machines have any peanut or tree nut products at all, but other kids can bring their own lunches containing those items. If your child is so allergic that they can't even be around others who have eaten those products, then the district provides homeschooling support, and there's at least one charter school that is totally peanut & tree nut free, but the district doesn't require any class or any table in any other school to be nut-free. If your child qualifies for free lunch and has a documented dairy, soy, or wheat allergy, then your child will be given an appropriate meal; if your child doesn't qualify for free lunch, then you're on your own to provide an appropriate lunch. One of Tiven's best friends has a dairy allergy; while many of us keep him in mind and don't send birthday treats with any dairy products, his mom asks to be to notified if anyone doesn't want to be bothered with dairy-free treats so she can send something for him. There's another child in a different grade with a peanut allergy whose mom does the same.

As for the increase in allergies, allergies are an immune system issue and babies' immune systems are very fragile. Soy formula has been proven to increase the risk of both peanut & soy allergies, but the newer dairy-based formulas don't seem to be solving the problem, either, which supports the argument that breast is best. A study in Sweden a few years ago showed that kids who were born by c-section had a 7-fold increase in food allergies; the current theory is that the child isn't colonized with beneficial bacteria from the mother's birth canal and that delay in colonization affects the immune system, which leads to allergic reactions. And our modern "sanitize everything" mind set doesn't help; not only are kids not exposed to some of the bad bacteria that can challenge (and thus, build up) their immune systems, they aren't even being exposed to the good bacteria, and to make matters worse, they're crawling around on chemicals, chewing on chemicals, sucking on chemicals, and that has to be a huge challenge to the immune system. I've literally seen parents rub hand sanitizer on their hands before picking up their baby, but then letting baby suck on their fingers! :shock:

tink9702's picture
Joined: 09/28/08
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"freddieflounder101" wrote:

I am also curious as to why allergies have increased so much. There was none of this when I was a kid. So either people didn't talk about it or it wasn't happening, or people just dealt with it and didn't make it everyone else's responsibility. Strawberries, for example, is a common allergy in small children but not something that would affect OTHER people eating strawberries.

I also think that the vast majority of nut allergies are just about that kid eating nuts, and not about being touched. I mean, these kids are out in public, or on public transportation, in playgrounds, lots of places where nuts are consumed. Sometimes they still give them out on airplanes. I think there are serious scary allergies at that level, but there is also hysteria around the slightest bit of discomfort on the smaller end, and the hysteria is what makes people callous instead of caring, because they're frustrated by it.

I agree that many with nut allergies are fairly paranoid, myself included. it's terrifying to watch your child having trouble breathing.

I think the real trouble comes from the fact that allergy testing really doesn't tell you HOW allergic your child is. Our allergist tells us that Ethan is "Very Allergic" to peanuts and tree nuts. It's not very helpful because we just aren't sure if touching another child who has touched peanuts will cause a problem or not. He also said he's seeing more and more kids with true allergies.

As far as why? I wish I knew. I'm not one of those parents who don't let my kids get messy. I hate sanitizer too. Our family histories show no food allergies, just some sensitivities to dairy. I was addicted to peanut butter while I was pregnant with him? Maybe that's the problem? I honestly wish I knew what went wrong...I digress, sorry!

PatienceW's picture
Joined: 08/06/08
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"tink9702" wrote:

As far as why? I wish I knew. I'm not one of those parents who don't let my kids get messy. I hate sanitizer too. Our family histories show no food allergies, just some sensitivities to dairy. I was addicted to peanut butter while I was pregnant with him? Maybe that's the problem? I honestly wish I knew what went wrong...I digress, sorry!

DH's nephew has a peanut tree nut anything under the sun allergy (milk, certain protiens, wheat etc) but thats the only family that has food allergies...and there are none on my side. I often wonder if my peanut butter addiction while preg (it was the only thing I craved and aht stayed down!) has somethign to do with DS being peanut and tree nut allergic?