Predisposed to Peanut Allergies
When I was first dating my husband, I nearly killed him with a lovingly baked batch of Sweetest Day cookies. Six years later, I’ve found some dessert recipes without nuts to accommodate his peanut allergies but am still learning about the intricacies of food allergies.
When my husband was diagnosed in the 70s, doctors told him to avoid peanut butter and pretty much left it at that.
Today, there’s a prominent “No Peanuts” sign outside my 2-year old’s Gymboree class. My nephew, also allergic to peanuts, eats his lunch at a table reserved for kindergarteners with food allergies.
When did food allergies become so common and so dangerous? I can’t remember a single classmate with peanut allergies growing up. According to the Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Network (FAAN), 12 million Americans suffer from food allergies.
Still, it’s no wonder that I’d never heard of the diagnosis when I was in grade school. According to Christine Szychlinski, APN, CPNP, manager of the Bunning Allergy Institute at Chicago’s Children’s Memorial Hospital, the number of kids with food allergies doubled from 1997-2002 and is still growing. Illustrating the increased prevalence of allergies, FAAN recently endorsed guidelines and a common language for clinicians treating patients with food allergies.
Even the new guidelines, which can be found in the Journal for Immunology & Allergy, can’t help me with a ticking time bomb of a parenting situation. My daughter’s pediatrician told me (several appointments ago) to feed our little girl some peanut butter and see if she has a reaction. There’s just never been a great day to potentially bring on an ED visit. I’m seriously considering feeding her the peanut butter sandwich when we’re in the doctor’s waiting room for the next check-up. I’d love some advice for any of you pediatric nurses on the when to offer what seems like toxic food to a child with peanut allergy predisposition. I’m also curious: why do you think food allergies are off the charts for this generation of kids?