Monday, January 16, 2012

Oh, how I loathe peanuts...

I shared with you last week about my recurring anxiety.

And today, I just wanted to share some information about peanut allergies.  It's not as obvious as everyone thinks it is. 

Please take a minute to read this, even if you don't know anyone with a peanut allergy.  Chances are, your kids will end up friends with someone who does, or there's someone who's in your church or in your child's class who has one.  And this information might just save a life one day.

4 in every 10 kids have a food allergy (CDC/NCHS Study, "Food Allergy Among U.S. Children...")

And in from 1997 to 2007, food allergies have increased 18% in children.  (CDC/NCHS Study, "Food Allergy Among U.S. Children...")

Disclaimer:  I'm not an expert, just one momma who has done her research to learn as much as she can.  Don't take this as medical advice.

Peanut allergies can vary in severity.  The moderate to severe allergies can cause anything from hives to anaphylaxis depending on how much peanut the person was exposed to.  Anaphylaxis is the severe, life threatening allergic response that can have symptoms of lowered blood pressure, wheezing, vomiting, and hives.  And what's happening is that the airways begin to swell causing suffucation.

The only treatment of anaphylaxis is epinepherine.  Likely administered through an epi-pen.  In mild allergic reactions, anti-histamines (like Benadryl) can be used.

What most people don't realize is you don't have to eat a peanut or peanut butter to have a severe reaction.  Tons of foods are made on the same equipment or in the same manufacturing facility as peanuts.  And there's enough peanut protein in the air or on the equipment to contaminate the food to a high enough level to cause a reaction.

Layne has had several reactions...two that were indicative of early signs of anaphylaxis.  Neither time did she eat peanuts or peanut butter.  Once was Easter candy that was manufactured around peanuts (this was before we knew she was allergic).  The second was just this year at Christmas.  She ate some chocolate chip cookie cake that we were told was fine...and it wasn't.

Also, a person with a peanut allergy does not have to eat something containing peanuts or contaminated to have a reaction.  It can be direct contact, ingestion, or airborne inhalation. If a friend eats a peanut butter sandwich, then touches someone with an allergy, that's enough for them to have a reaction.

Layne has once.  At a get together, someone ate some peanut butter brownies, kissed her goodbye or touched her and she broke out into hives. 

How do you know if a food is safe?

Read the labels.  The whole nutritional information label.  Sometimes it's in the ingredients.  Sometimes it's called out as an allergen alert.  Sometimes it has a simple statement "Contains: Milk, Soy, Peanuts"  Sometimes it says "Made in a facility that also handles peanut products."

Why am I telling you this?  What does it matter?

1) This is my daughter's life.  And millions of other kids too.

2) The biggest barrier I see with peanut allergies is miseducation.  Or lack of education.  Unless you personally know someone with a peanut allergy, you likely aren't aware of the severity of this illness.
Knowledge is key.

3)  Asking you for patience and understanding if you come into contact with a family with a peanut allergy.  I know it's going to be a pain, but Layne will have her epi-pen with her at all times when she goes to school.  And she likely won't be able to eat lunch with her friends. But just be considerate if someone asks you to check for peanuts or avoid them. 

If you made it this far, thank you for reading.  Feel free to share this with anyone you think may benefit from this!


1 comment:

  1. I never realized until recently how severe a peanut allergy could be. My allergies cause me to itch and sometimes break out into hives, but never have I experienced any anaphylaxis. My hub can't eat macadamia or Brazil nuts because they seem to make his esophagus hurt. I pray that schools will comply with children who have the peanut allergy, and that teachers as well as parents, will become more educated on this important subject. Blessings from Bama!


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