J.M. asks from New York, NY on October 27, 2010
Peanut and Tree Allergies
Hi Wise Mommas,
My 3 year old daughter was recently diagnosed with peanut and tree nut allergies. I'm new to the world of food allergies and would love to learn from others who are further along the path. What do you wish that you had known about this when your child was first diagnosed? Any great websites or books that you could recommend? We have already met with an allergist and are armed with Benadryl and an epi-pen at home and at daycare.
Right now, I'm trying to find the balance between being educated and prepared and driving myself and my daughter crazy (it seems like most of the things in my cabinet are "manufactured in facilities that handle treenuts or peanuts"....argh!
Thank you for your time!
A.C. answers from Columbus on October 27, 2010
The world just got a whole lot scarier for you and your family, I know. Because it did for us too, when my son was diagnosed at 18m with a life-threatening peanut allergy.
Talk to your daughter's allergist about the "manufactured in facilities that handle nuts" -- some kids with nut allergies can handle this, and for others its a huge no-no. Your allergist will be able to tell you if you need to stay away from these, or only the "may contain nuts" or "contains nuts" items.
I have found the FAAN website (http://www.foodallergy.org/) to be very helpful, as well as www.kidswithfoodallergies.org. The FAAN site has information that can be very helpful in educating daycare/schools about the issue if they are not already aware. And you do need to have a serious conversation about avoiding exposure -- kids your daughter's age don't know enough not to offer a dangerous or accidentally ingest it (most of them don't wash their hands without direct intervention by adults; and many will share items or pick items from someone else's plate, etc.). So, really, your daycare/preschool needs to be peanut-free.... (we are now struggling with this, since we are now needing to put our son in daycare and it's so scary...).
Make sure your daycare provider (whoever that is) and/or preschool have an "action plan" for your child (you can download it from FAAN); make sure they have watched the Epi-Pen video and have practiced with the practice pen.
I'm pretty new to this too, but I believe that this is all about vigilance and label reading, and when in doubt, avoiding the food.... We're considering getting a medical alert bracelet, as a visible, consistent reminder of the health issue, since my son is too young to speak for himself.
Be your child's advocate and work with the other caregivers in your child's life (try not to make it adversarial) in order to try to keep your child safe.
G-d bless you and your little one!
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A.F. answers from Chicago on October 27, 2010
Here is a list of peanut/tree nut free treats from a preschool http://www.glenviewmethodistpreschool.com/Treats.html. Other than that, just always call ahead at restaurants...at one point Pizza Hut was using peanut oil or peanut butter as a thickener in sauce (not sure if that is still the case - we avoid it due to milk allergy). Buy your daughter a few books regarding food alllergies and teach her to always ask you or her teacher before EVER accepting food from anyone. We taught our daughter (diagnosed at 12 mos with accidental ingestion at a daycare center -- I planned to avoid peanuts and tree nuts till at least age 3) the phrase "No Peanuts for Caitlin" as soon as she was old enough to talk and when we go to Coscto and there are big bins of peanuts (shelled and unshelled) we show her what they look like so she knows what to avoid. She is 3 years old, 3 months. Halloween is especially hard. Costco sells these big barrels of Halloween Utz pretzels that are peanut and tree nut free (says so straight on the package- yeah) and we also buy her special candy through a Canadian company called Panhandle Premium (it is EXPENSIVE THOUGH) because you cannot use hardly any regular candy. Haribo products are peanut free (German gummy bears and worms, etc). And, Hershey's chocolate chips are peanut free but Nestle ARE NOT (made in facility warning). Even some cake mixes and icing in cans have the warning so you just have to check EVERYTHING unfortunately. It takes a longer time to go grocery shopping so my husband watches the kids and I go myself. We try to stick with FRESH fruits, veggies, meats, etc. instead of packaged things and that makes our lives easier :) Good luck and know you aren't alone. I would also join FAAN (Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Network) http://www.foodallergy.org/ as they send you alerts re: things that were accidentally mislabeled and contain undisclosed allergens.
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M.O. answers from Chicago on October 27, 2010
Would love to talk with you more. Our third child who's 1 was recently diagnosed too.
Check out the FAAN website. And there's a great book I bought called, The Peanut Allergy Answer book. I read through several books, but that was my fav considering that the peanuts/tree nuts were our biggest concerns.
It's hard to get your head around. I had to read, research, clear out my cabinets, etc. I agree it's overwhelming and a lot of information to take in.
Try to breathe. Try to be patient and give yourself time to understand it all without becoming hysterical. Know that there are LOTS of us mamas out there who have been through this too. Know that there are lots of kids out there with the same allergy and fortunately we are not reinventing the wheel here.
The biggest "news flash" to me were that the most challenging situations for your child will be: buffets, bakery items, "home cooked" foods at parties, and "hidden nuts" (all of the terms in cooking that use peanuts) like Asian foods.
Feel free to msg me.
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