My son has a life-threatening peanut allergy. It will KILL him. He is by no means a minority.
Peanut allergy is one of the “Big 8″ food allergies that account for 90% of those suffered by 21 million Americans. (AAAAI and FAAN)
More than 3 million people in the United States report being allergic to peanuts, tree nuts or both. (AAAAI)
Approximately 1% of the U.S. population has a peanut allergy (Sicherer, SH, “Prevalence of peanut and tree nut allergy in the US…”)
Less than 21% of patients with peanut allergy will outgrow it. (AAAAI)
Peanut Allergy is the most common cause of food related death (AAFA).
Four out of every 100 children have a food allergy. (CDC/NCHS Study, “Food Allergy Among U.S. Children…”)
From 1997 to 2007, the prevalence of reported food allergy increased 18% among children under age 18 years. (CDC/NCHS Study, “Food Allergy Among U.S. Children…”)
From 2004 to 2006, there were an average of 9,537 hospital discharges per year with a diagnosis related to food allergy among children 0 to 17 years. (CDC/NCHS Study, “Food Allergy Among U.S. Children…”)
So the other day another mom pretty much told me that her kid should be able to eat peanut butter at school, regardless of the risk to my kid or any other Peanut Allergic (PA) kid. My argument is that a child has a right to safely go to school but hers doesn’t have a right to PB&J.
And then it occurred to me that every other disability that a kid could have (autism, down syndrome, etc) has an image floating around FB and the ‘net that puts a FACE to that disability. So why not food allergies?
Because when you get to the heart of the matter these are CHILDREN we are talking about – not some hypothetical person. So I made this:
That’s my son. Look at him. Now do you think your kid should have PB&J even if it could kill my son? I know it might sound dramatic but this is our truth. Our every day reality. Our “have to hurry up and leave the park because a mom showed up and let her toddler with peanut-butter-covered hands loose on the playground.” THOSE instances are hard enough, why should a child have to deal with it at school when it can SO easily be avoided? (And FTR EVERY exposure increases the severity of the allergy.)
Now, I know you’re thinking “but your kid doesn’t go to school.” No, he doesn’t, we homeschool. And the reasons we HS have changed over the years but the very first reason was that our son could die there. In fact, at the school he would go to, children have been life-flighted after being exposed to peanuts when it was known that they had an allergy. AND not all parents with PA kids can HS them. And EVEN IF THEY COULD they shouldn’t have to.
It’s hard enough living with this allergy – I think as human beings we should be more than willing to do whatever we can to ease that burden on each other.