Peanut Allergy Kills 7-Year-Old at School: Who Is to Blame?


peanut allergy death girlIn a very tragic story out of Virginia, 7-year-old Ammaria Johnson died after ingesting an allergen at her grade school. On Monday, Ammaria ran to a teacher on the playground crying and saying she "ate something bad." The little girl had a full-blown allergic reaction, complained about her throat, and was rushed to a clinic where she died of cardiac arrest.

This happened in minutes, you guys. Minutes that took a little girl's life because someone was unprepared for a food allergy. While it's unclear what Ammaria ate, the little girl had a severe peanut allergy, so we can assume that is the culprit. But the school should have been ready for an event like this, especially if what Ammaria's mother says is accurate. And if it is, then someone at that school needs to be held responsible for this little girl's death.

Regardless, this is every parent of an allergic kid's worst nightmare.

Laura Pendelton, Ammaria's mother, reported that at the beginning of the school year, she brought her daughter's medication to the school and explained her severe allergy. Included in her meds was not only Benadryl, but Albuterol for asthma and the all-important Epipen for a severe allergic reaction. I have an Epipen myself, and it never leaves my bag, even though my food and allergy issues are much less severe than this little girl's. Clearly, this life-saving medication was exactly what was needed in this situation, yet it was nowhere to be found.

Pendelton says she was told that the school already had everything they needed and to take Ammaria's medications home. You know she wishes she had gone with her first instinct. The school is not commenting on the little girl's death at this point. However, the school guidelines do say they do NOT stock all of the medications necessary, and parents should supply the school with special medications.

Someone messed up, and now a life is lost.

We don't know if the person who sent Ammaria's mother home with her medication didn't understand the severity of food allergies or was just uninformed. Heck, we don't know who it was or if it really happened exactly that way. But we do know that many, many people laugh off food allergies and "hysterical" parents. But for every crazy parent out there who insists their child can't eat anything even when he's perfectly healthy, there are so many more parents who are just trying to keep their kids alive.

No, we didn't have this rash of allergies when we were kids. But we also didn't have as many environmental, chemical, and toxic food problems when we were kids. Things change, in case you haven't noticed, and one big thing that has changed is the number of kids who risk their lives just by going to school.

If the school had been prepared, Ammaria might still be alive. But if parents had been informed and skipped the peanut butter or whatever peanut treat they sent to school with their kid, Ammaria would definitely still be alive.

Be considerate instead of judgmental about kids with allergies. Someone's child's life could depend on it. It's too late for little Ammaria, sadly. But as parents, we should all be working to make sure this does not happen again.

Does your child have a life-threatening allergy?


Image via Dan4th/Flickr

elementary school, food, kid health


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Kritika Kritika

Strictly from a logistics it possible that the medicine was stored in an office or the classroom and by the time they were able to get to the medicine and back it was too late? Sounds like she found a dropped candy bar or something on the playground and the school can't possibly be held responsible for either of those things...shit just happens. It's very sad all around.

momof... momof030404

Yes the parents had beeen in formed....but had the grandparents and Aunts and uncles and step parent and OTHER parent that might keep the child eery other week?? OMG......and was there a SUB that day? Someone who had NO idea of the SEVERITY of this allergy?? You can NOT cover all bases and if a child has a DEADLY allergy to ANYTHING the ENTIRE resposibility falls to the parent! A 7 year old is in NO WAY responsible enough to understand the severity of the situation! this is heartbreakingly sad but NOT something the school should be sues for AND people better be walking on egg shells because as the other parent if there was ANY insinuation that one of the children caused this by bringing something and THAT small child was now living with a guilt that IS NOT thiers I would have a shit fit! I am sorry if its harsh v=but this falls on the mama and the rest of the allegic childs family!

ashja ashja

And parents still bitch and moan that little junior will starve to death if he isn't allowed to bring peanut butter to school. My kid doesn't have allergies but this attitude pisses me off. What a small sacrifice to save a child's life.

Melis... Melissa042807

We may never know what truly happened, but having worked in a school I know our protocol was if a kid with an allergy started having a reaction, we were to stick the EpiPen in their leg right away. Stick first, ask questions later. And ALWAYS know where a kid's medication is. There is no excuse for that in my eyes.

IF the school didn't know where her medications were and did not act fast enough, that part is their fault and their system needs a major adjustment. Who knows where the peanuts came from.


Awful. Meds are normally kept in the nurse's office and only dispensed by the nurse. Schools NEVER provide meds for kids- that is ridiculous- where in the world did the mis-information to the mom come from?

Very tragic. Tells me if my kids ever develop a severe allergy to make them wear an epipen daily.

PonyC... PonyChaser

First, condolences to the family. This is horrible, and I'm sorry that it happened. And now, to the issue...

So many things wrong. I think the biggest problem is the idea that ALL drugs must be turned in to the office, where they can be locked away in a cabinet, and nobody really knows where they are. Yeah, the school nurse does. But how does that help a little girl whose anaphylaxis is so bad that, by the time the nurse is notified, locates the key, unlocks the cabinet, searches out the meds, retrieves them, re-locks the cabinet, and rushes outside... she is dead anyway? If an allergy is this severe, the child should have that pen on her at ALL TIMES. If she is old enough to carry it, she is old enough to know that it is not a toy, and that it is to remain in her purse/pocket/whatever, unless she needs it.

If the child is not old enough (and maybe she wasn't, at age 7), either she doesn't belong in a group setting where the allergen may be present (sorry, inconveniencing an entire student body over one child's allergy isn't fair to the rest of the kids), OR the teacher should be required to keep that pen on her at all times. But even that's not a good idea, because there are times when the teacher is separated from the child.


PonyC... PonyChaser


This comes down to the stupid "zero tolerance" rules regarding drugs, and I'm sorry, but stupid "all inclusive" mentality that has invaded our schools. I know it's not a popular opinion, and I'm likely to be flamed for it, but sometimes you have to look at the situation and decide what is best all the way around, and not just for one single child.

A child who has special needs so extensive that an entire student body must be inconvenienced does not belong in the school. Yes, peanut allergies (and other, lesser-occuring allergies) are serious. But if a student cannot be anywhere near that allergen, even if a trace is found on another child (like the residue from a peanut butter sandwich eaten for breakfast), that child shouldn't be in school until such time as she is allowed to carry life-saving meds.

tyrel... tyrelsmom

I have a friend with a severe peanut allergy. She carried her own epipen already in first grade.

I think there are several at fault here.

nonmember avatar Cee

My goddaughter has a severe allergy as well, and she was told from an early age to tell EVERYONE she is allergic. It is painful and cute to watch a four year old go through the series of phrases she was taught by her mum "I dont know if I can eat this, Ive never seen this before, i am allergic, do you know if this thing has any of these uncomfortable, I cant eat it." It would bring tears to my eyes to hear her go through so many of these phrases. If she would start to feel anything related to her allergic reaction shed also go through a series of phrases "Im itchy, I cannot breathe, I have an allergy, I need medicine." It is a parent's responsibility to educate their child and the people around them about a child's allergy. In a big school, a parent must be on top of everything needed for their child because there are many children with many independent needs. Also, parents cannot have it both ways. They do not want schools to do anything for their kid that they feel is invasive, but when something like this happens they always go "why didnt the school do this?"

Geeky... GeekyMumof2boys

My three year old son has a severe tree-nut allergy. He came in contact with an almond chocolate at age two before the allergy was known about and almost died. It was terrifying. Now I get extremely frustrated because no one takes his allergy seriously. Say I take him to a daycare or a babysitter and tell them of his allergy, they try to brush it off & get me to not leave the epi-pen because "its not like they feed all the kids almonds and pecans and stuff." When ALOT of things say "may contain traces of tree nuts" even fruit snacks! He can have peanuts just no tree nuts. It scares the heck out of me because people are so clueless and careless about his allergy. Makes me wanna keep him with me allways!

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