Monday, November 2, 2009

Peanut Allergies - fact or myth?

I remember, back in 2000, I had a number of students with allergies. One of my kiddies had anaphylactic allergies, but then so did another. The one mom, a nurse, trained the staff in delivering the Epipen.
The other mom was fearful and frantic.

From then, the principals, in trying to cover themselves, created peanut-free classrooms. This worked well. The school custodian would endeavour to clean the desks immediately after lunchtime. All was well.

Some schools created a peanut-free lunchroom: either the nurse's room, or a classroom where one child was joined by others from different classrooms. It was my belief, however, having dealt with a number of students with varying issues, that kids need to learn to protect themselves. Whether it be a diabetic gr. 1 with a shunt, a child in a wheelchair from spina bifida, another with neuofibromatosis, and physical concerns.  How many children are not allowed to eat peanut butter for lunch due to one child in the school with an allergy? A great number, I imagine.

There are those who believe that the quantity and the severity of cases are over blown, in an attempt by Family Physicians, to cover themselves. If a child has a mild allergy to peanut butter, there is no reason s/he should live in a hermetically sealed environment, like a bubble boy.

Canadian Food Inspection Agency - Food Allergens 

It was once thought that peanut allergies were lifelong. However, recent studies show some children may outgrow their peanut allergy

Then, there are the horror stories. Did you read this news item?

CTV News | Teenager with peanut allergy dies after a kiss

25 Nov 2005 ." -- A Quebec teenager with a peanut allergy has died after kissing her boyfriend who had a peanut butter sandwich. Fifteen-year-old Christina Desforges died Monday. She went into anaphylactic shock and in spite of being given an adrenalin shot, could not be revived."

Did you read the update? -- is more to the point. It is amazing that the press fails to deal with the misinformation they broadcast!

Lack of oxygen killed teen, not peanut kiss - More health news ...

6 Mar 2006 ... MONTREAL - A lack of oxygen to the brain likely played a role in the death of a teenager once thought to have died of a peanut allergy after...

The young lady had attended a party, where there was smoking. The coroner corrected himself with little fanfare:

Coroner Michel Miron told The Associated Press that it appeared that Christina Desforges, 15, had suffered from "cerebral anoxia," or a lack of oxygen to the brain, which caused serious damage.

1.52 percent of Canadian children were found to be allergic to peanuts. A comparable study, performed in 2002 in the U.S. found that .83 children are allergic to peanuts. Tree nut allergy in Canada was also found to be about 120 percent higher for Canadian children, compared to .51 percent in the U.S.

But did you read the original article?

"The data are not complete – they reflect about 90 per cent of the 9,000 individuals who took part in the telephone survey – but give a good indication of how many Canadians are affected by peanut, tree nut, fish, shellfish and sesame allergies."

Plus, it was a PHONE SURVEY! How accurate is this? No actual testing. In Canada, we have universal health care and kids get tested for free if referred by a doctor. In the US, this is not the case. In addition, the US stats were from 2002, the Canadian data from 2008

More kids, tested more times, with more sensitive tests. It fail to report if these were skin allergies, or more severe allergies in which skin contact or inhaling the peanut allergen provokes a fatal reaction. There is a huge difference. My kids are allergic to cats, but we had a cat. They washed their hands if they touched it and they knew to protect themselves.

It is amazing the knee-jerk reactions to this issue. Parents need to be better informed than this. If you are reading a blog post - ask questions... Rely on someone with experience assessing the validity and reliability of scientific studies.

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