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has anyone actually been asked by the nursery/school whether they would like a ban on a particular allergen?

(22 Posts)
babybarrister Sat 22-Oct-11 19:47:21

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

eragon Sat 22-Oct-11 20:01:17

yes. my sons primary school became 'nut free' after he had a reaction, i didnt ask for it. and it was often broken. for instance the pta held a event in the dinning hall, and left scattered whole peanuts on the floor.

so how was this nut free?

head teacher banned cereal bars, and chocolate with whole nuts. but this was applied to the kids, but the adults felt free to bring peanuts in the school in the evening.

any school who say they are nut free are just lacking in any understanding about allergies, the very idea that my son was safe with this ban wasnt going to help with the bean, egg, and other many allergies that he has....

school training needs to be improved in this area, even the epi pen training, which ironically i have had because i work with kids, does not prepare or train the adults to manage food allergies in an inclusive and sensible way in the school environment. this is still left to the parent and depends the level of communication the teachers have with parents.

libbyssister Sat 22-Oct-11 23:21:45

My son came home from school with a note this week banning peanuts from school lunchs, citing that there are a 'number of children with peanut allergy in the school'. TBH I was quite angry. Not because the safety of these children isn't paramount, it is, but be because banning peanuts in pack lunches isn't addressing the issue, it's just a big gesture to say "we're managing this".

IMO it would be much more sensible to educate the children in why food should never be shared or taken from any other child, in any circumstances. And to tell them why.

If these children had dairy allergies instead, for example, they wouldn't ban cheese, yoghurts or anything containing butter, would they?

It's utter nonsense.

anniekins Sun 23-Oct-11 00:14:43

But not all reception/year1/year2 children will understand the seriousness of what they are told in order to educate them. They may not even DO as they are told! So far safer to ban nuts from lunch boxes at this age. As a mother of a nut allergic child, I was always very thankful that the school imposed this for the sake of my son.

mintyneb Sun 23-Oct-11 10:09:56

The nut ban at DDs school was requested (demanded) by the child's mum about 3 or 4 years ago. Child is still there in yr 5. My DD, just started reception is severely allergic to dairy and did the school ask if we wanted dairy products banning or even force a ban? No of course not as it would be ridiculous.

Anniekins, this is where nut bans are wrong. I totally understand that you want to protect your dc, I know I do but my DD has had to learn from a very young age that she cannot eat food offered to her without checking its safe first. Up til this summer she had a few reactions on contact with dairy resulting in hives and swollen eyes etc so she is at risk at lunchtime from flying yoghurts and spilt milk. Then this summer she had a full blown anaphylactic reaction after eating a piece of bread with milk in it. Bread and crisps and sausages etc (foods which babybarrister is regularly trying to educate people about - thank-you!) very often have milk in them and they are the sorts of foods young children would want to share around. Any one of these could land DD in hospital.

Sorry babybarrister, I have gone off on one, I should put these comments on your other thread!

anniekins Sun 23-Oct-11 18:27:37

Mintyneb - I do understand that ultimately, any child with a life threatening allergy, is going to have to learn that they alone, are responsible for what they put in their mouth and must avoid the allergen

The problem at reception age is not just about the allergic child knowing he mustn't eat from another child's lunchbox, all the other children need to be aware that if they've handled anything with nuts in, they need to wash hands before touching anything my son may then touch (play eqpt, water jug etc). You can't expect the onus to be entirely on the allergic child - how are they to know whose had nuts in their lunch and what they've touched, and therefore has to be avoided. I really don't think you can rely on 4 or 5 year olds to fully understand this and a blanket ban is the easiest way for the school to police this.

mintyneb Sun 23-Oct-11 19:11:04

but what about children who have eaten yoghurts, drunk milkshakes and eaten cheese straw type things which could well be all over their hands and then gone off to play with my DD (and other dairy allergic DC) without washing their hands first?

If you follow your argument then all these products should be banned too. Would you agree to a ban of these types of food in school?

Whilst for us, so far it looks like DD will only have an anaphylactic reaction if she eats dairy products, only last week she was at a playground climbing all over everything and within 15 minutes or so of leaving had very puffy and sore watery eyes. I later discovered there had been an icrecream van parked nearby....

babybarrister Sun 23-Oct-11 19:58:29

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

ChocaMum Sun 23-Oct-11 20:39:51

It is a shame to see your opinion anniekins as a mother of a dc who suffers anaphylactic reactions. I would have hoped you could appreciate even more so that any child who suffers an anaphylactic reaction could also have problems when children don't wash their hands eating any allergenic foods.

My dd has anaphylactic reactions to nuts too, but also to other foods. So to me a nut ban didn't make sense at all. Our dd's nursery already had a nut ban in place before she started, and the fact is that only foods obviously obtaining nuts are banned. All the foods that say 'may contain nuts' are still allowed, so I'm sure you're aware that these foods pose a significant risk to a child who can have an anaphylactic reaction. I definitely think education about food and hygeie is the way forward, and despite the nut ban, I spent several sessions at the nursery going over how to actually prevent my dd from having an allergic reaction there instead of assuming she'd be safe because of the ban.

coral Sun 23-Oct-11 22:12:03

I have a teenage dd, allergic since birth to a number of allergens including peanuts, milk, egg, kiwi and insect stings. Never asked for a ban although peanut bans always been in place at various schools - to be honest, peanuts have always been the least of her worries! Tried fighting bans in favour of better allergy education for all but never been successful as, has been clearly shown on here, parents of peanut allergic children fight tooth and nail to ensure there is a ban in place. I too am saddened by anniekins opinion, especially as my dd, along with many other milk allergic children, have had to manage to survive in reception with the free milk sloshing around the place every day - now that is a challenge and with the onus very much on the shoulders of that young allergic child to keep themselves safe - and yes, I have always expected my dd, as soon as she started nursery, to fully understand that she has to avoid her allergens and use measures such as hand washing, asking for tables etc to be wiped, to keep her safe. I remember one time when, just having started a new junior school, she was told be a dinner lady to sit at a dirty table to eat her lunch. She asked for it to be wiped, was told not to be fussy and to sit down, but stood her ground having to ask several times again, that it be wiped first and succeeded in her quest! All allergic children, need to be able to develop this confidence and ability to protect themselves - this, in my opinion, cannot be learnt in the comfort of a blanket ban bubble.

As a mum of an allergic teenager I am fully behind young children accepting responsibilities for their allergies as early as possible (with the support of parents and school staff of course) - they need to have the necessary skills and confidence in place for them to be able to deal with their allergies in the Secondary school world. DD's current school allow packed lunches to be eaten in any classroom - they often remind parents in the newsletter to adhere to the nut ban - dd in the medical room practically every week having to deal with skin contact allergies (hives, swollen eyes etc) where traces of milk products have clearly been left on tables/chairs/handles etc - but no mention is ever made of a severely milk allergic pupil - just assumed she has to get on with it and, I think, because I never go up and make a song and dance about it! Indeed, I have such confidence in her abilities and strategies to keep herself as safe as possible, I have, this week, allowed her to go on a school trip overseas to another continent - I do have to somewhat confess though that this still doesn't stop me from super stressing about her while she is away!

So babybarrister, chocamum and other parents of multiple allergic children, I just wanted to offer my support to the quest for improved allergy education for all allergens as opposed to meaningless nut bans.

BOOareHaunting Sun 23-Oct-11 22:25:52

I think they should ban all allergens.

So so far that's:

peanuts/ legumes
nuts/ tree nuts etc
romato ketchup
grass pollen
tree pollen
wasps/ bees
kiwi (and anything else I've forgotten)

All in the name on inclusion I might add as one allergen/ allergy doesn't trump another and no-one can predict how severe an allergic reaction will be. Also maybe fresh air as no-one has ever identified what DS anaphylatic reaction was to.


I totally agree babybarrister. My DS has now (just because things have improved I suspect!) started to react to ketchup when sitting by someone eating it. MOVE then is my suggestion! (not anaphylatic to it yet hmm)

It's not worth trusting your life with anyone else because a comment made on the other thread 'but dairy isn't as serious reaction as nuts' just goes to show how some people just don't understand enough. sad

greenbananas Mon 24-Oct-11 07:52:07

"The problem at reception age is not just about the allergic child knowing he mustn't eat from another child's lunchbox, all the other children need to be aware that if they've handled anything with nuts in, they need to wash hands before touching anything my son may then touch (play eqpt, water jug etc). You can't expect the onus to be entirely on the allergic child..."

anniekins, okay, this does kind of make sense to me. Even very little children are able to police what they actually put in their mouths, but they may not notice traces of allergens on tables and toys etc. HOWEVER, I also think that this should be managed by good handwashing and constant supervision when children are eating. If all the allergens are banned from the school environment, staff may well get complacent - and that means that a reaction from a 'stray' food which has got into the environment anyway is less likely to be noticed and dealt with quickly.

(The other day, my 3 year old refused to sit down in Burger King until I had got wipes from my bag and carefully cleaned the table and his chair smile I am glad he already thinks this way)

greenbananas Mon 24-Oct-11 07:57:27

Another thought: DS's little group of friends (all pre-school age) are already used to wiping their faces and hands before they play with him, and they know that he must only eat foods which have been checked with a responsible adult first. I have seen them reminding their parents about this!!

I feel sure that a sympathetic and clued-up teacher could create this kind of ethos in the classroom (even though I do still have nightmares about sending DS to school!...)

freefrommum Mon 24-Oct-11 12:44:27

As most of you probably already know, I really don't agree with bans on any particular allergens for many reasons. Firstly, they are almost impossible to police so what's the point? I can't imagine dinnerladies going round opening every child's sandwich to make sure it doesn't contain peanut butter or reading the label on every chocolate bar in every kid's lunch box. Secondly, it creates a false sense of security. Life is not 'free from' therefore we need plans in place to manage the risk of an allergic reaction rather then trying to pretend the allergen doesn't exist. As difficult as it is, allergic children do need to learn to take responsibility for their allergies from a very young age but also the nursery/school staff need to take responsibility too for ensuring that the other children are allergy-aware and understand the importance of hand-washing, reporting spills, not sharing food etc. And I'm sorry anniekins but are you saying that my DS's school should have a blanket ban on milk (even though they all get given it free), wheat and eggs as this is only way to police his allergies? If not, then are you basically saying that nut allergies are more serious/important than any other allergies? My son has just as much chance of dying from anaphylaxis (if not more in fact) than any child with nut allergy so why should only nuts be banned at his school?

anniekins Mon 24-Oct-11 21:28:31

Freefrommum – both my posts refer to my own situation only. I do realise that I am fortunate in that

a) My son is the only child in his class of 30 that has a food allergy of any kind, and is only allergic to peanuts
b) The school told me they wanted to issue a letter asking parents not to include peanuts if their children’s lunchboxes
c) All his classmates parents were more than willing to leave nuts out of their lunchboxes.

I do appreciate that if you have a child with multiple allergies or a class with several children with different allergies then it makes it very difficult, if not impossible, to ask this of parents.

The OP asked if anyone was asked if they wanted a ban. In my case, the school offered and I accepted, because, and I seem to differ in my opinion to many of you, that if I could minimise the risk in those early years, I would. It was feasible to use a ban in my case and it gave us both peace of mind and some breathing space to teach our son how to handle his allergy. He was having to do this outside of school at parties, restaurants, play dates etc – we were just able to minimise the daily risk for a few years until he was that little bit older and had developed a better understanding. I don’t think his allergy management is worse for not having had to deal with it himself at school, for a few years.

I’m genuinely surprised that some of you would prefer to not accept a ban, (where feasible, offered and supported by parents), in order to give very young children the opportunity to learn to manage the risk. To me, it was an unnecessary risk we didn’t need to take at that stage.

Popbiscuit Mon 24-Oct-11 21:50:42

Hi Baby-I was on the other thread about allergies today and just wanted to clarify that we live in Canada where ALL the schools have a blanket nut-ban (no nuts of ANY kind). It is accepted and un-debated by all parents and we get tons and tons of literature sent home from the school, the anaphylaxis society here (apologies; not sure of the name of it here) and parents of allergic children about why this is so serious. Recently we have had isolated bans on milk and eggs. I believe it is specific to the child/classroom or perhaps it is limited to kindergarten. Last year my son was in a class with an egg-allergic child so eggs "in their whole form" were banned, meaning hard-boiled eggs, egg sandwiches but baked goods with egg (cake, muffins etc.) were ok. We've also had the same with a little boy with dairy-allergy which did cause a bit of a stir amongst the parents.
Having volunteered in the classroom at lunch/snack-time, I think I agree with Anniekins that the ban does make sense in the early years so that parents can help young children to learn to manage their own allergy. My children are not allergic but I'm pretty sure I wouldn't, couldn't relax if I thought my 4-6 year old was going to be in a classroom with potentially fatal allergens.

greenbananas Mon 24-Oct-11 21:55:01

...if I could minimise the risk in those early years, I would. It was feasible to use a ban in my case and it gave us both peace of mind and some breathing space to teach our son how to handle his allergy.

I do kind of agree with this. I am incredibly grateful to the church toddler group who offered to use only 'safe' biscuits when DS was attending (I did not ask them to do this!) because it allowed my DS to feel 'normal' while he was still very young, and avoided him feeling any major resentment when he was still only 18months old.

I don’t think his allergy management is worse for not having had to deal with it himself...

Again, I agree. DS is learning to manage his allergies really well, and is now ready to take on the challenge of going into outside environments (he was 3 last month).

I do accept that it's unfeasible and unfair to DEMAND that schools and other 'public' settings ban dairy, eggs, kiwi, strawberries, mustard, cardamom etc. However, it's also unreasonable to expect parents of children with allergies not to jump at the chance if staff are willing to try to make the environment as safe as they can - as long as we are confident that they are still managing the risks appropriately and being fair to all children.

GreenMonkies Mon 24-Oct-11 22:03:20

My girls knew as soon as they started school that they were not allowed to swap foods out of packed lunches. They have mentioned it themselves. My youngest is dairy intolerant, and has known from 3½ if not younger that she can't have cows milk, and is able to pick what is suitable for her on the hot dinners menu, and will ask the teacher or dinner lady if she's not sure. Luckily it's not an anaphylactic reaction, but it does cause her significant stomach problems and make her very snotty if she consumes dairy in any quantity.

I think the responsibility lies with every one, child, parent, staff and so on. A child in my eldests class had leukaemia, and was often immune-compromised, the school would send a letter home to all parents asking them to not send in children that were unwell with colds etc as this could present a serious risk to him. Everyone was quite happy to try to keep him healthy.

ChocaMum Mon 24-Oct-11 22:10:03

Anniekins - to me it came across that your opinion was nut bans should occur because of the risk of anaphylaxis when children don't wash their hands etc. It seemed to suggest that anaphylactic reactions to other foods don't involve this risk, which of course they do. So it doesn't seem fair that it's acceptable to have nut bans but not dairy or egg bans for example, when all these children are at the same risk.

Also the reason I am wary of nut bans is it gives the reassurance you are saying you had, but to me it is a false sense of security. It is extremely unlikely that all foods that may contain nuts are being banned, that children are not eating nut containing foods for breakfast before turning up to school, that staff have not been out at some point and eaten something containing nuts and forgotten to wash their hands, etc. it makes you think that their is a negligible risk when there is still a very real risk, and that can be more dangerous than not having a nut ban in place. It makes the staff, the parents and the child feel safe and therefore not be on the constant high alert you have to be when responsible for possible anaphylactic reactions. I emphasised to the staff at my dd's nursery that despite their nut ban, this does not mean she could not have an anaphylactic reaction to nuts. They seemed very shocked to start with and almost dismissive, but when I explained the extent you have to go to, to have a true nut ban, they finally understood. So instead I explained the need to have measures in place such as strict hand hygiene, cleaning all eating surfaces frequently, dd eating on a separate table with a staff member, keeping the epipens wherever dd is at all times, doing repeated epipen training with the staff, etc to have real measures that reduce the risk of anaphylaxis.

Even in our own home where I am very strict about what foods we buy, I know I cannot let my guard down. Just the fact that my husband goes to work everyday is enough to make me think that i have to always be alert to the symptoms of anaphylaxis. He could have been lax about washing his hands, or his clothes might have some crumbs on, adults and children are always in and out of our home who could all potentially be bringing in an allergenic food on them, and we rarely stay in the house all day too so literally every time we step outside I am also potentially exposing dd to one of her allergens. But by being alert and strict about reducing the risk, we aim for us all to lead a normal life.

freefrommum Tue 25-Oct-11 12:18:12

Very well said ChocaMum. I simply don't believe that bans work and they give a completely false sense of security. In fact, I'd go as far as saying that they can actually make it more dangerous because, as you said, children/staff etc won't be as on their guard as they should be. And Popbiscuit, yes I do find it very difficult to relax knowing my 4 yr old is in a classroom with potentially fatal allergens (milk, wheat, eggs) every day but almost everywhere we go has potentially fatal allergens so do you suggest I simply keep him at home 24 hrs a day? I believe I have to trust him and his teachers to keep him safe as far as possible and make sure plans are in place in case he does have a reaction, the same as I do whenever he's with me.

Popbiscuit Tue 25-Oct-11 16:43:01

FreeFromMum-No, no; wasn't suggesting that for a minute. Just that if it gives you a bit of peace of mind while your children are at school, then I would fully support that. Obviously I defer to the consensus of the anaphylaxis community. Just saying as a non-member of that community, I wouldn't raise any objection to the proposed banning of those items. Although our school is completely nut-free, staff and volunteers are extremely vigilant about identification of anaphylactic kids (signs in classrooms), epi-pen training, hand washing procedures, washing all surfaces and supervising lunchboxes (homemade baked goods sent home if a lunch supervisor unsure about the status). Having a ban doesn't necessarily mean that staff won't still be on their guard.

ChocaMum Tue 25-Oct-11 17:23:52

popbiscuit it sounds like you have a great system in Canada. Unfortunately most people are not as aware as what are you describing about what is necessary to have a true nut ban. For example at my dd's nursery where there is a nut ban in place, I know several of the snacks they give the children have labels which say 'may contain nuts' and having seen my dd have an anaphylactic reaction to a product that had this label (which she just touched by the way,) I know it doesn't actually mean anything. Also the staff truly believed she was extremely unlikely to ever have a reaction at nursery because of their ban, and that scared me. It would be amazing to have somewhere that dd could go where there was n risk to her, but like I said, I don't even consider our own home risk free so I can't expect that of a place with lots of children running around in.

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