Friday, March 20, 2009

How One School District Handles Peanut Allergies

Here's an interesting story about how a school district in the Chicago suburbs is handling peanuts for its allergic students.

Their policy is to limit, but not ban them. I'm for this policy for numerous reasons, even though I used to be for a peanut ban. It's kind of easy to find yourself supporting one after watching your child go into anaphylactic shock.

But through the years, I've seen that limiting is best--mainly because it's the most realistic. And also because it's very hard to enforce a total ban on peanuts--as the "Brothers and Sisters" episode on ABC (see previous post) illustrates. It doesn't seem to be a necessary step as kids get older--but limiting peanuts in classroom activities and peanut-free tables are a must.

That said, I'm absolutely in favor of total peanut bans in preschools and day care centers, simply because small kids are notorious for their messy food habits and the risk is too great. Most allergists agree.

This is a very passionate issue for people on both sides, but I think this school district made a good compromise. See what you think.


Kelsey said...

Did you see the Good Morning America piece on peanut bans today? I thought it was good reporting and presented a balanced view, but I still worry people will use portions of this kind of story to make it more difficult for us to protect our children with severe allergies. I'm not sure it's good to give any press to a man who suggests we're overreacting to any degree.

Jenny said...

I worry about the same things all the time. I never want to give any credibility to anyone who suggests we are overreacting.

Some of the stories about "cures" and also stories about peanut bans do not necessarily help us protect our kids, which I guess is one reason I blog about this stuff! :)

News stories don't usually reflect the nuances of dealing with this medical condition, which is one reason I try to talk about it here and I hope all of you do as well!

Col said...

This seems like a reasonable policy. It raises awareness, which is never a bad thing.

I'm more circumspect about total peanut bans than I used to be: My 4-year-old brought home a peanut-butter cup in his Valentine's treat bag this year, from a school that is peanut-free and that supposedly prohibits outside food of any kind. Kinda reinforces that you can never, ever stop being vigilant, even in supposedly "safe" environments, and you have to teach your kids the same. (My son knows better than to eat candy without asking us first. Disaster averted.)

In some ways, I think active management rather than a total ban could actually be more effective.

Jenny said...

Col, thanks for your very interesting comment about the PB cup in the bag of kid who attends a "peanut-free" school. You're absolutely right--vigilance is needed no matter what.

Schools (and parents in our shoes) face a difficult balancing act as you so effectively point out.