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nut allergy in children


Katieb

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We have just been advised that our daughter is allergic to nuts (something we have always considered but have now had it confirmed) and she has been given emergency treatment - anapen, antihistamines and steroids which i find all very overwhelming and worrying.

Does anybody have any experience with these allergies and situations in France? I am obviously going to have to inform the school (she eats in the canteen) and she will have to have her medication with her at all times, she is only 7 so all school staff will need to be informed fully on the seriousness of this matter. She is already an asthma sufferer so they are aware of her inhalers etc. I know that many french do not take allergies very seriously - i know from personal experience as i work in a hotel and often clients have food allegies which are "laughed at" in the kitchen - just like pregnant english women not wishing to eat unpasturised cheeses etc.

 I also wonder, if anyone has experience of allergy, if they have any translated info i could print out for my daughter to keep with her if she is visiting friends and at school etc. My french isn't too bad - but not good enough for these medical terms - it is all a new subject for us and are just trying to get to grips with it. Any help or information would be gratefully received.

 Many thanks , Kate.

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When my kids were growing up it seemed that most of the kids in their classes at school claimed a 'Nut Allergy'.  In fact there were only 2 real cases in the whole of their schooling (whch were very serious) which means that these were 'masked' by all the false claims which seems no more than fashion.  I do feel for you and your child suffering with the real thing and it must be a great worry.

Nearly all of the imagined nut allergies at my kid's schools were claimed against peanuts.  Odd really as a peanut is not a nut.  It's a pea.

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I sympathise totally, I've just been diagnosed with Celiac Disease (can't eat gluten) and it's a nightmare here in France. My doctor thought I was some kind of crazy when I demanded tests for allergies, and because I work on deplacement a lot I have to eat in restaurants at lunchtime and that is a total nightmare.

The attitude here seems to be just shut up and get on with it, but it isn't as easy as that. It doesn't get through to them that you need to know the actual ingredients of the food you're given, it's not enough to avoid bread or in your case nuts. Personally it has taken the enjoyment out of every restaurant meal. If I eat at home, no symptoms - in a restaurant, disaster.

Is there any chace she might grow out of it? Sometimes allergies, including asthma can leave a child around the age of seven, perhaps she might be lucky?

Interestingly, my daughter's boyfriend has just gone into shock because he ate a biscuit with nuts in. His parents are both district nurses but simply got him the appropriate medication (between patients) and left my lovely but dippy daughter to look after him, just the two of them alone in the middle of the countryside, no sense between the two of them. She was panic stricken, but handled the situation very well all things considered. I just thought, if that was my son I'd have dropped everything until I was certain he was alright. Maybe we panic to easily? Mind you it is a very dangerous condition, or am I fussing!

I do hope she's ok and learns to deal with her condition.

Aly 

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'Nut allergy'...yet another trendy condition we never knew of a few years back. When I went to school in the late 70's all my school mates ate peanut butter sandwiches and none of us suffered any ill-effects.

However I notice these 'food' allergies do not occur in European kids...

Is it something in the 'nuts' these days ?

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[quote user="Jura"]

'Nut allergy'...yet another trendy condition we never knew of a few years back. When I went to school in the late 70's all my school mates ate peanut butter sandwiches and none of us suffered any ill-effects.

However I notice these 'food' allergies do not occur in European kids...

Is it something in the 'nuts' these days ?

[/quote]

My cousins daughter had this when she was three years old, she still has it and she is forty now, perhaps she was a trendsetter !

As stated earlier peanuts are not actually nuts which is why Peanut butter consumption is neither here nor there......

What I do think is true is that we hear more about these conditions......

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Food Allergies - the perceived prevalence of food allergy is much greater ( up to 20% of parents think their children may have food allergy)  than the actual prevalence - approx 8% in children less than 3 years old, this prevalence diminishing to 1.5%-2% in adults

Peanuts ( a legume like a pea ) and tree nuts (almond walnut etc) account for the majority of food related allergic events. Those most commonly associated with anaphylaxis such as the peanut are also those allergies least likely to resolve in later years.

Only trace amounts of the protein need be ingested to produce an allergic response.

The apparent increase in prevalence seems to parallel the increase in other allergic/atopic diseases in childhood,there is much speculation as to why but no definitive answer as yet.

Because of the severe yet fortunately rare allergic response that may occur, avoidance of peanuts/nuts is the only form of "treatment" however, so many foods now contain  peanuts and/or  nut products  a certain vigilance is mandatory  for sufferers.

 

 

 

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Hi Kate

I really do sympathise with your problem which, despite being flippantly labelled as "trendy" , is a real cause for concern.

My husband, who is now 45 years of age, was diagnosed with an allergy to brazil nuts when he was approximately 3 years old.  His parents didn't 'think he might have an allergy', the fact that his airways and lips swelled and he was unable to breathe was pretty conclusive evidence for them and the medical profession.  His last anaphylactic episode was whilst on duty at a football match some years ago when the flapjack provided in the packed lunch was changed to one which contained brazil nut - this resulted in his collapse and only the presence of the St John Ambulance unit saved his life.  He used to be able to eat peanuts but in recent years the brazil nut allergy has extended to include all nuts, and yes, I realise that peanuts are groundnuts, not true nuts, but, nonetheless, it extends to these too.  I believe that it is the proteins found in the nuts and peanuts that are cause of the problem. 

Apparently, if the proteins in the nuts are refined then they do not tend to cause a problem, but unrefined proteins from the nuts and peanuts do.  Do not believe that peanut butter will not cause a problem because, if it is unprocessed/unrefined, then it most surely will.

I am surprised that a child of 7 has been given what I assume is an Epipen or similar?  These are not easy to use as I believe that it is an intramuscular injection.  I would think that someone at the school needs to be advised/trained on how to use the device properly and safely.

I lady that we know has a little boy of 2 years of age who has recently been diagnosed with a nut allergy.  She, like you, now scours the lists of ingredients of foodstuffs, to ensure that her child does not inadvertently ingest nuts.  She recently told me that Kinnerton, who manufacture children's chocolate etc. guarantee that their products are nut free.  www.kinnerton.com I think.  Sainsburys sell little chocolate lollies, so if you can get someone to bring some over for you, that is a chocolate treat that your little girl can enjoy without fear. 

There is also an organisation called AAIR with a website which you may find useful.  I think there was also the correct expression for saying that a person has a nut allergy in French.

Sorry if I am going on a bit, but it makes me really cross when someone asks for advice on something that is causing them real concern, only to receive very smug, unhelpful responses.

The plain fact of the matter is that a nut allergy can be fatal.

I hope you can find the information that you are looking for.

Regards

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[quote user="Whatamess"]

I am surprised that a child of 7 has been given what I assume is an Epipen or similar?  These are not easy to use as I believe that it is an intramuscular injection.  I would think that someone at the school needs to be advised/trained on how to use the device properly and safely.

[/quote]

Not rocket science - take out of tube - hold in fist - whack into thigh - hold for 10 secs - remove - put back in tube - theres a video (slow to load) here; http://www.epipen.com/howtouse.aspx

Addition - and if it was me I wouldn't want to wait around for some advised / trained person

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No, Tandem_Pilot, not "rocket science", but then we are not talking rocket scientist are we?  This particular matter concerns a 7 year old child.  As a parent myself I do not believe that a frightened child of 7 in the grips of an anaphylactic reaction and struggling for breath can reasonably be expected to cooly and calmly administer an intramuscular injection into her thigh - an adult would find it difficult enough. 

An animated demonstration is all very well and the theory is simple enough, but it doesn't actually reflect real life.

In addition, accidents do happen and people have been known to lose a thumb or finger when they have panicked and tried to use the device the wrong way round - if you Google "Epipen loss of digit" you will find that this is not an uncommon occurrence, hence my surprise that a young child may have been left to administer her own medication.

 

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I think you're missing the point, it is not difficult to do, and in my experience children are a lot braver than adults where needles are concerned.

I googled your search term and picked one at random;

"It is estimated that 5% of the paediatric population in the United Kingdom have some form of food allergy.1 In a recent study assessing the extent of nut allergy in school children within the Severn NHS Trust, 26% of allergic children had an EpiPen at school.2

In association with increased prescription of these devices, there is a greater incidence of accidental auto-injection into digits, resulting in significant pain and discomfort, because of severe vasoconstriction.

The presentation of three cases over the past six months in our accident and emergency department prompted a literature search to define the most appropriate evidence based management for this situation. We conclude that the intradigital administration of phentolamine is the preferred management."

Yes, accidents do happen, but I would rather be alive with that risk, than dead waiting for a 'responsible adult'

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Thankyou for those positive and helpful replies, although i do feel rather upset and insulted by a couple of them. This is a very serious allergy and we are now totally responsable for saving our daughter's life and have to carry the adrenaline jab, antihistamine and steriod medication with us at all times. My main concern is how the school will cope with this and i worry that it will not always be accessible to all staff at all times. I'd still love to hear from anyone who has children or friends at school in France with the same problem.

Apparently, fom what i understand, the number of people suffering with nut allergies has increased over the years as nut oil (arachide) is more widely used  these days as it is cheaper to produce - it is not a gimicky or trendy illenss!!! We have had several appointments with an allergerlogue and pneumologiste here in recent weeks, my 7yr old daughter has had numerous blood tests and skin tests and we have the results in black and white of her allergies towards nuts, arachides, cats and house mites - on top of that she has asthma and eczema. She is so worried about having a bad reaction and requiring the anapen emergency injection she is worrying about everything that she eats, so it is also difficult not to be too dramatic about her food but at the same time install the importance of checking everything that she eats.

Thanks for those who supplied the useful websites - it is all so helpful and kind of you. Please continue to ask around for friends with children in french schools who suffer this same problem.

Many thanks

Kate

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Hi Katieb,  I too was totally shocked by the comments regarding this being a trendy illness.  As an ex school secretary we were taught by the local school nurses to take anaphylactic shock very very seriously.  All adults who worked with the children in question were given appropriate training and the child was never allowed to be without his epipen (carried by an adult assigned to him).  We even had a case of one child being kissed goodbye in the morning before school by his mother and the whole side of his face swelled up like a balloon (mum had just eaten a mars bar which of course contains nuts!!).

As a school we also asked other parents to think very seriously about what they put in their children's lunch box - just in case the food came into contact.  On special occasions like school parties the parents of the affected child were asked to provide the child's own food.

Good luck.

Suey

 

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Yeah but that is just an unsubstansiated quote in the middle of a taste test.

Mars UK make no mention of nuts in Mars Bars and the Anaphylaxis Campaign (who seem to be on the ball) only mention Mars Bars with reference to a possible egg allergy, no mention of nuts, not even in the vegtable oil used.

http://www.cheppinguk.co.uk/cgi-bin/search/search.pl?Terms=mars

 

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This was about five years ago - they may have modified their ingredients since then.  But it just goes to show the effect that even a small amount of a nut substance can have.

Suey

ps my husband went into anaphylactic shock through handling a plant - nothing to do with nuts and I would not want to go through that experience again.  Very very frightening.

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Yes but doesn't that make the point even more valid.  The report was from 3 years ago (2005) when mars foolishly included some egg product to make it unacceptable to vegans.  No mention of nuts at all not even peas

I've seen the effects of extreme allergies first hand when a shooting team mate of mine was stung by a wasp.  out with the Epipen and whacked in the thigh.  Probably saved his life but sweats and condition after not good - put in a lousy score too.

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Well yeah, but can you believe that Rowantree Mactintosh/Nestle/lindt/whatever are not aware of this? They cannot hand-on-heart say no cross contamination (nor can anyone else) as who knows if a worker might have had a Snickers (new name for Marathon) bar yesterday and breathed in the same environment as Mars Bars.  That's the sort of concentrations we're talking. In the example given above I would lay cash money (and I don't usually bet) that some other antigen was at work and no I don't work for Rowantree Mactintosh/Nestle/lindt/whatever but I do have a good grasp of chemistry  and statistical analysis.  I know the difference between a cause and a causagen when I see one. My point is still that these spurious claims of allergey mask the real cases like the OPs child.

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As a sufferer from nut allergies you have my greatest sympathy.  You will have to teach your daughter to be particularly vigilant about food which you have not prepared yourself.  Make sure you ALWAYS carry the adrenaline pen and try to get several to make sure you have one set in the car etc.  Check their expiry dates and make sure they are all valid.  In my own experience you will find the French not to be quite as scrupulous as the Brits about identifying items containing nuts or prepared in an environment where nuts have been, particularly items produced in local patisseries which often have crushed nuts on the top.  Also the very tempting soft ice-cream shops which have the same crushed nuts on top of many of the tubs and where not much attention is paid to the dangers of cross-contamination.

I think it is a little cruel for people to pop up with "they never were allergic in my day".  Allergies to nuts are very real and very dangerous, putting aside the parents who almost will such things on their kids to somehow make them "different" and actually have no such thing.  Yes, peanuts are a pulse BUT the allergy to them is real and, as in my case, very often will run alongside an allergy to what I call the greasy nuts, ie brazils, walnuts etc. and also the drier ones, almonds, hazels, etc.  I asked a doctor to help me identify the dividing line between a pulse and a nut and he didn't know how they were defined.  He said I would just have try things and see what happened! 

I did it by holding the nut/pulse in my hand for a couple of hours to see if the hand went red, puffy or itchy.  In this way I discovered I was NOT allergic to coconut, chestnuts and pine nuts, or any of the traditional lentil or pea family.  But everyone will be different and with a particularly violent allergy I would imagine even the test I did will be problematic.

Try this site for more info - http://www.users.globalnet.co.uk/~aair/nuts.htm

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There was an item on nut allergies on Woman's Hour yesterday - it may well be available from the BBC website on playback.

The only thing I really remember (I was in my workshop) was that the reason children in some areas, such as North Africa,  are less prone to nut allergies may be that they are included in their diet from a much younger age (as peanut butter, for example) and so they become acclimated.

The programme, and other info, is here.

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