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Teach Nursery Magazine, article on pets in nursery.

(11 Posts)
eragon Tue 05-Feb-13 15:23:59

I read this article, called 'the nursery tiger' and although it mentioned allergies, I found some faults or some issues not mentioned . I e-mailed them and a edited version of this will be in next months magazine.

I mentioned that animal allergies can be severe and that there are some people who can not be in close contact with animals. That animal dander is present in schools without any animals being in the setting etc. and mentioned that animal food may have allergens and so should be part of a risk assesment for food allergic children.

am quite pleased at the magazines quick response really and was glad to get the allergy message across!

JuditHorvath Mon 18-Feb-13 12:30:52

Dear Eragon

I am really glad that you have read my article and I hope you have found something useful too in it.
I understand your frustration and I just would like to add that I - not for a second- doubt the seriousness of allergies, I have enough of them myself to know the possible effects. However, I find it harsh to call an article faulty, given that it is not a book but 1800 words in a magazine, therefore it can not describe all the issues in detail.
Also, I did refer to risk assessments and the importance of investigating the circumstances before an activity, and also highlighted that everyone shall introduce animals in a setting as far as they feel comfortable, which, for some people is not having animals in settings at all, and it is fine.
Dear Eragon, you need to, however, consider that healthy children can not be disadvantaged or even less advantaged because of being in a group with children who are unfortunate enough to be allergic. It is similar to a situation where I would stop the appearance of dairy products in my nursery because one of the children and I are severely allergic to any contact with milk protein.
Thank you for your comment and in the future I will pay even more attention to detail.
Kind regards, Judit Horvath

eragon Mon 18-Feb-13 20:54:27

I wanted to highlight to practitioners who may have little experience with severe foods allergies the impact an animal in a setting may have.
As a parent its been difficult explaining that a close exposure to a dog may have life threatening consequences for my child.
I do not see healthy children being disadvantaged in these circumstances, unless, however they wittness a fellow peer having severe problems breathing in front of them.

Ironically, I would rarely consider removing milk from a school, and would use different policy and handling methods to ensure the milk allergic child is safe. I find banning food does not always produce a well seated working protocal for individual children in some settings. However parental concerns would feature in the formation of any individual health policy that i make in a setting, and the advice given by the medical profession, e.g an immunologist.

I take this view as a early years practitioner, (currently student in last year of BA in early years education) with huge experience in management in a wide varity of settings, and as a mother with an allergic child, and as someone who has worked with an allergy charity with children.


Reactions from bird seed or animal food , or indeed from handling a animal who has recently eaten a allergen, have occured with allergic children and allergic adults.
Allergic adults in setting are also part of risk assessment as well.

I liked your article, it was good, with useful info. I can see that you were restricted to a limited word count, and i just felt that this aspect, although may be reasonably rare could happen for some practitioners and needed to be addressed. Thank you for your comments.

JuditHorvath Tue 19-Feb-13 01:28:57

Dear Eragon

Thank you for your prompt response and thank you again for adding your view.

I agree with your emphasis on the importance of assessing all possible risks and I too describe and view the subject as a professional, posessing QTS, EYPS, BAEd, MA in Communication Science, and currently working on my PhD in the field of Early Years with a significant experience as a practitioner, manager, and in addition to all, as a person living with life-threathening allergies myself.

As I mentioned above, I feel all Early Years settings should weigh up the benefits of of an activity against the risks and include children in their assessments so that valuable opportunities are not lost. Practitioners should use their own judgement and expertise as well as, where appropriate, the judgement of others, to ensure that the assessments and controls proposed are proportionate to the risks involved. Almost all aspects of life can carry risks for children, as for example they can touch animals in the park, get into contact with animal excrement in the zoo or breathe in dust of animal food in a supermarket (not to mention all the other risks within these places). Would you stop them carrying out all of those activities, even though, you know they could be potentially risky? It is actually up to your own personal or professional judgement and comfort, and that is how it should be.

I am glad you have liked the article and I am happy that you have added to it but I think it is incorrect to call a viewpoint faulty for not carrying all aspects and details of a particular subject. The article aimed to encourage people to consider activities they may have not thought of before and also described a possible practical way of using the project approach in young children's education, and I would like to hope it has delivered on these.

Sincerely, Judit Horvath

JuditHorvath Tue 19-Feb-13 01:54:46


As an addition to this, I believe you have completely misunderstood my hypothetic example with the milk allergy. I highlighted that removing the possibility of benefitial animal encounters from a setting because of a rare (you considered it rare yourself) possibility of allergy is like removing milk from a setting because of the milk allergy of a child (it actually can cause exactly the same severe problems by even just breathing it in as animal or other food allergies). Therefore, you have actually agreed with me by stating you would rarely consider removing milk from school but amend policies and procedures accordingly which is exactly what we do when having allergic children and animals in the same place. After all, you can never be sure what children are or can be allergic to and people find it out when they are first exposed to the allergen (personal and professional experince).


eragon Tue 19-Feb-13 10:39:18

I think we DO agree on many areas.
As for risk, a mention in your article that some rare few people are unable to be a room with an animal would cover this area.
That again, some can if they take inhalers and double antihistamines can cope on the odd occasion. This is not an ideal situtation. This aspect of allergy is frequently difficult for others to fully grasp or understand, which is why I wanted it highlighted.

As for breathing in allergens in supermarkets, for some that would be an issue. For instance those with fish allergy may have difficulty passing the fish counter and may have some form of asthma.

An outside trip to the zoo, is less of an issue than being in a small room or handling an animal that will give you an allergic reaction.

A child or adult who has environmental allergies, is exposed on a low level ALL the time, for instance the highest amount of dog and cat dander is found in the school corridors from the rows of pet owning children's coats and clothing. This may be ok at a low level, and to add a furred pet may tip that allergic person over.

It depends upon the allergic individual and the health status of the person at different times , ( say a child with a cold or recovering from a virus) and their reaction status at that point that must be viewed in an holistic way.

The impact of dog allergy, for instance, has huge social impact for the child and family. As the child grows older no lift or car sharing is allowed, we have to ask the question, ' do you have a dog, does it regularly go in the car with you'? This is on top of the food allergy questions and epi pen training that we had to give.
Family members with dogs, were met OUTSIDE because despite giving 24hrs notice and frantic removal of dog and as much dander as possible, within 30 mins he would react.Even with extra medication.
This was a way of life that was advised by his immunoligists, and not just from our fear of him reacting.

As for risk i have benifited from having my own children and others in my family who have lived or live with life threatening conditions, we are not the helicopter mothers so many think we are. We let our children do what they are capable of with as much freedoom as they can manage. After all broken bones can be fixed. I thnk in some areas we worry much less than other mothers.

One of the most fasinating aspects of allergy is that there is always something new to be learned and understood. New studies are coming out that will bring hope to some who are suitable for the new treatments. I feel that , like working in our field, we are always learning something new along the way.

I really must change my name now on this board! am sure many people recognise me!

If anyone reading this has similar experience with animal allergies, please feel free add your comments.

JuditHorvath Tue 19-Feb-13 13:39:47

Dear Eragon, shall we co-write an article on allergies?

eragon Tue 19-Feb-13 15:22:55

yeah, I bet we have a lot of info to combine! good idea!

JuditHorvath Tue 19-Feb-13 19:50:34

Hi, Eragon, I have got the article comissioned, I would love to interview you about the subject in order to incorporate your professional experience in my article, I hope you will agree. Have you got any idea how to chat to you in private? Email? Although I would not be comfortable to air mine here, but in the article you can see my nursery's name to contact me if you are happy to do so or suggest a different way of contact. I look forward to hearing from you. Regards, Judit

eragon Tue 19-Feb-13 23:37:29

thanks for message, sent email to you!

eragon Thu 28-Feb-13 21:11:46

my comment is in this months 'teach nursery' am also reading the dairy allergy article with interest.
can feel a list of points on inclusion and policy making support tips may be very benifical for practitioners.

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