Sunday, January 26, 2014


Petunia had a playdate today.  I love absolutely everything about the little girl who came over except (and this is a BIG except) the fact that she is deathly allergic to peanuts.  Considering that peanut butter is a food group as far as my kids are concerned, I live in fear that she will accidentally ingest something containing traces of peanuts (off a utensil or glass or dish that wasn't washed properly?  After touching an imperceptible trace of peanut butter left on the table?) while at my house and end up in the hospital.  I actually chased her mother's car down the driveway today after she was dropped off because I realized that she'd forgotten to leave me an Epi-pen.

This girl happens to have a cousin who is allergic to not only peanuts, but essentially everything else in the universe other than air.  (Yes, I'm exaggerating, but not by much.)  Because the universe lives to spite me, the boy in question is a classmate and good friend of Thing One's.  (Small town small town small town.)  There are so few foods this child can eat that he comes over with a bag of his own food provided by his mother, and I watch the kid like a hawk to make sure that he only eats things from his bag.  His mother leaves me Epi-pens, too.  I do know how to use them, and it's a useful life skill, but being the only thing standing between a kid and death is a little intimidating, especially when it isn't even your own kid!

I have no idea how teachers and school nurses deal with the allergy thing.  Even excluding Thing One's friend, his classmates include kids who are allergic to wheat, dairy, tree nuts, peanuts, eggs, soy, and bananas (of all things), and that's just a quick list off the top of my head.  For one class section in his grade, there is literally nothing that the parents can send in for birthday treats other than Popsicles, since somebody in the class is allergic to at least one ingredient of every other common treat.  It's completely insane.

I don't remember this EVER being an issue with my classmates or friends when I was a kid, in any country we ever lived in (I also don't remember the high prevalence of kids with learning difficulties or other disorders of some kind, but that's a subject for another post.)  Am I just looking back through rose-colored glasses or is this legitimately a new thing??


  1. Effects of a sanitized world. Plus, better health care access. In the past, what didn't kill kids made 'em stronger through an amped-up immune system.

    I tell ya though, being in Oregon is putting my immune system on holiday - I hadn't realized how exposed to everything I was all the damn time, and how restful it is to not be fighting off every damn virus and bug.

    1. I've heard the sanitization explanation, and to a point it makes sense, but were we really so much dirtier back in the 70s and 80s when I was a kid than we are now? I guess Purell didn't exist then, but I remember still having to wash my hands frequently etc.

      That said, my childhood was quite literally a parade of global microbes, and I was actively vaccinated against all the ones I didn't happen to come across on my own! I joke that whomever gets the blood I donate is also getting antibodies against some of the most exciting pathogens the Earth has to offer as a secondary benefit. With that kind of exposure to legitimate pathogens, there was no way in hell my immune system was going to waste so much as a second on harmless things like peanuts or bananas! ;)

    2. Also, very glad your immune system is getting a much overdue break. Dentist yet?

  2. Tomorrow to the dentist! Yay!

    Yeah, I believe the sanitization theory - when I see how people here parent their children, it's worlds differences from how I grew up. Think about all the antibac stuff that's out now, how much less time kids spend outside getting dirty, etc. It's pretty startling when I'm in other places, where it seems more sane.

  3. We're right on a main road, so the kids can't go outside much without either direct adult supervision or first getting in the car to go somewhere. By that logic, guess I'm lucky that we have no food allergies here!

    1. I don't think it's that simple a causation issue - certainly many kids who live very protected from germs are fine, and others do not. But it's a distinct evolutionary disadvantage to be deathly allergic to common foods, so I find the surge in such allergies to be fascinating. Of course our child mortality rates in the US are so much lower than in other places - are many young child deaths in other places due to such allergies, but unnoticed because underneath the dysentery and malaria? I don't know.


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