Thursday, August 27, 2009

Acorns, Pine Cones and Tree Nut Allergies

Medical note: Please always refer to your doctor if you have any questions about what is safe to handle for your child's tree nut or peanut allergy. I am not a medical professional, so I can only speak for myself or those with tree nut allergies similar to my daughter's. Thank you!

Recently, I had an e-mail question from a reader who wanted to know if their 3-year-old who is allergic to tree nuts could safely handle acorns and pine cones. This mom was concerned because her child's school did a lot of outside exploration and the teachers wondered if these natural objects were safe for this child.

I realized I didn't really know the answer--I've let my daughter handle pine cones (normally they don't have pine nuts in them--that I've seen) but just recently she asked me about acorns since they're falling from all of the oak trees right now.

Acorns are nuts from oak trees so they do qualify as a tree nut. However, check out this link from FAAN: -according to them, it says kids with tree nut allergies don't have to avoid these objects. However and this may sound like a "Duh": please don't let your kids eat acorns without asking a doctor. According to my Internet research, some people do eat them and if your kids are studying Native American cultures, for example, acorns may be used to create foods. So as always, before you let your child ingest anything ask your allergist. Everybody is different in what they will react to.

That said, tree nuts such as walnuts, etc. do show up in fall decor and crafts and your child should not touch those or handle them. Even the shells have enough allergenic material to cause a reaction in some people.

Has this question come up for any of you as well? Please don't be shy about asking your allergists for advice on this one. But it looks like pine cones and acorns should be OK for most of our kids to use in a science lesson or craft project.

19 comments:

Tanya said...

I never even thought about pine cones. I don't think I've commented before, but I appreciate all the work you do on this blog. It has been 1 1/2 yrs since we discoverd my daughter was severely allergic and I'm constantly learning new things ... thanks to sites like yours. Thank you!

The Food Allergy Coach said...

I saw this post on the Living with Food Allergies Blog Carnival. Great information! Thank you for sharing it!

Anonymous said...

My kids park district program did stuff with acorns today. They didn't eat them, they collected and counted them. My daughter didn't have a reaction, but I wanted to look it up. It's a little frustrating that i was notified of the activity before hand. The teacher said she looked it up on her "list" and it wasn't there. I have no idea what list that is, but my guess is it is something they just created reagrding foods that cannot be brought or used in food projects. Thanks for hte link!

Anonymous said...

Your link was extremely helpful to me today. I just wanted to thank you. Thanks for sharing!

ValeenBoston said...

my son's prek teacher showed up with acorns in the sand table... they were playing acorn are falling down to the ground and touching... frankly I was uncomfortalbve and did not know what to do as his hands will eventually find a way to his mouth... did not know if to complain or not so happy to have found your blog

lady arachnia said...

Thank you for your information. I wasn't sure if an acorn was considered an actual nut. My son has a seed project due and it would have been disapointing to him if he could't pass it in because he brought in an acorn.

Anonymous said...

my grandson has a tree nut allergy. I would like to know more. The Dr. told his parents if he gets anything made with tree nuts he could die if they don't get him to emergency fast. Now I'm really sceard. Help!!!

Jenny said...

To the commenter with the allergic grandson, I'm so sorry to hear that and please take heart that if you take precautions for your grandson he will be OK. It's also important to teach him to handle the allergy himself as he grows up.

Contact me at nut-freemom@sbcglobal.net if you have specific questions I can help you with. In the meantime, I hope you'll read my blog. You can search under key words for specific topics.

Anonymous said...

Thankyou so much for this link. I work at a kinder and today the issue of using acorns arose and I was unable to find any information about it elsewhere. This has really helped. Cheers

Kaila said...

Thank you so much for this amazing blog! I'm a (soon-to-be) college sophomore; I just found out about two months ago, three days before the end of term, that I'm severely allergic to tree nuts, most notably walnuts. I'd never noticed my sensitivity to the nuts for what it was throughout my childhood, (though looking back now, I can see the signs) so this is all very new to me. Since then I've had quite a few accidental run-ins with tree nut containing/processed foods, so I've been trying to find as much information on living with the allergy as possible. This blog is a wealth of information--especially since I live somewhere filled with pine and oak trees. :)

Michaele said...

With fall just around the corner, I am grateful for this information! The FAAN link is appreciated, too. I printed it for my 10 year old son so he can rest asssured that he may touch an acorn and not need an Epi injection!

GAGirl1963 said...

I am an elementary art teacher and I use many items for art creation. I started working on Fall crafts this week with my Pre-K and Kindergarten classes. We are making Pinecone Turkeys. Yesterday's students found the project very enjoyable. Today, however, was very different. I have a Kindergarten student with a severe tree nut allergy. I take precautions not to serve snacks with tree nuts or to eat tree nuts on the day that she will be visiting the art room. Luckily, her Mother is an employee at my school. So today, when she arrived, I sent her to see her Mother to check to see if she was also allergic to pinecones. Her Mother visited the artroom to speak to me. I showed and explained that the artroom already had many pinecone projects drying out on tables, a large bin filled with pinecones, and the lesson plan was for each student to select their special pinecone to be hot glued onto a paper plate. The student's Mother stated that she had never considered pinecones as a threat, because they are not usually eaten. I explained that they do release nuts and that pinenuts come from pinecones. The student's Mother was shocked and did not know how to proceed. I told her for today, her daughter did not have to touch the pinecones. I agreed to select a pinecone for the student, but we were both concerned about the major presence of pinecones in the artroom. Also, this process used up about fifteen to twenty minutes of our fourty five minute class period. The end result was that the class did not get to create their pinecone turkeys today. As a result of my concerns for the student with the allergy and her safety and my other students completing their current Fall project, I am researching this topic and that is how I ended up posting on this blog. Also, I wanted to alert other parents, of children with tree nut and other allergies, that the art room in most schools contains many different items and substances that could pose a danger to them. Over the years, I have had students with allergies to glitter, paint, glue, dyes, tape, latex, etc.. The art room is an environment that is difficult to make "allergy proof." Please include your child's art teacher in any allergy notifications that you provide. Also, please check with your child's doctor to see if there are precautionary measures that can be taken, so your child can have a safer art experience without missing out on the lessons completely. Please post replys or further information that may be helpful to myself or other educators that may be in the same or similar situations. Thank you.

Nicole said...

I'm really glad this was brought up & came across my facebook wall because I have a 7 year old with nut allergies of ALL kinds & had NO idea that an acorn or pinecone fell in the category of nuts. I was going to make a school project (I homeschool) out of taking a trip to the park to collect acorns, so I'm glad this popped up before I did that. Thank you for this information! Keep up the amazing work you do!

April said...

Lots of walnuts and pecans are falling off the trees too. It stinks

Jenny Coe said...

I wondered about this. I am really allergic to pine nuts.

Jenny said...

Hi Jenny,

Of course, please avoid whatever you need to. Pine cones do not seem to present problems for most people but there are always exceptions. Thanks for your comment!

April, I know! We are always careful to avoid the walnut trees. But in general, as long as you avoid the fallen walnuts, you should be OK. It's a great thing to teach kids not to pick these up and play with them, especially little ones. Thanks for being a loyal reader!

Anonymous said...

http://www.aaaai.org/ask-the-expert/Safety-of-exposure-to-acorns-in-tree-nut-allergic-.aspx

Anonymous said...

Because we visit the Morton Arboretum often and my son had a reaction with some rotten walnuts (green and stinky) on the ground via touch. So we simply stated to the school no acorns and pine cones due to his severity to all tree-nuts. Especially around the holidays when the schools get creative with seasonal crafts, bird feeders, etc. Pinecones are very fragrant, sappy and "dusty" so even though he's not ingesting it - it can get in his nasal passages or eyes. Everyone is different. I know some folks who avoid maple syrup simply cause it's from a tree but no nuts ...

Anonymous said...

Tree nut allergies can be confusing. Not everything that comes from a tree --pinecones and maple syrup included -- are going to cause a problem for someone with a tree nut allergy. Of course, the allergist is the best source for what you should specifically avoid. Sometimes seasonal allergies to trees can cause kids to have symptoms, too, so if anyone notices your child having issues in the fall, you might want to check and see if seasonal allergies could be the cause.