Should Allergy Scare Put Peanuts on the 'Banned for Everyone' List?

peanut butterIf you've got a kid with allergies, you're always on patrol: Wait, what's in that cookie? Are there pine nuts in this pesto? We never let our guard down, so when our kid does spontaneously break out into hives or start wheezing, it's both scary and frustrating. I can imagine how the parents of the boy in the Netherlands who had a near-fatal reaction to a blood transfusion felt when the docs finally figured out the cause: Several of the donors had eaten peanuts before giving blood. I'm sure nobody saw that one coming.

I was similarly (though, thankfully, not as seriously) blindsided by a recent phone call from the school nurse at my kids' school. My 5-year-old son Julian had broken out into hives, could I come and get him? My first thought was peanuts (Julian's personal kryptonite). That's what the nurse thought, too: "Did you give him peanuts for breakfast?" I suppressed the urge to say, "Yeah, because I'm a complete idiot," and shook my head.


Julian hadn't eaten his snack or lunch yet, the nurse said, because his kindergarten was running behind schedule due to that morning's "Read to a Dog!" program. (If you've never heard of "Read to a Dog," it's basically the latest trick schools are using to get kids hooked on reading, which they do by bringing friendly, obliging dogs into classrooms where they "listen" to students reading them stories.) Great, I thought, he must be allergic to dogs now, too. Which was odd, because he'd played with puppies plenty of times before with no problem. 

It wasn't until we were driving home that I figured out what was going on. Now lulled into a contented Benadryl haze, Julian was going on and on about the "doggie" from the back seat. "He was so friendly, mommy. He just kept licking and licking my face." Hmmm.

Sure enough, one Googling session later, I had my proof: Lots of dog foods contain peanut butter. It wasn't the animal itself that turned Julian into an itchy mess, it was whatever was in the dog's dish that day.

I can freak out about the possibility of peanuts (or whatever else) hiding in a million places you never would've thought to look, but in the end, I was more relieved than anything else. Peanut ban for everyone? I guess I can't do that. I'd rather be more vigilant about fewer allergens than think my son was allergic to way more things than he actually is.

Have your kids ever had a mysterious allergic reaction? What do you think of this peanut business?


Image via richiec/Flickr

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