As a physician and parent of a child with food sensitivities, I would like to clarify some of your comments to a letter from "Allergy Anxious."
You stated that, "a person with a dairy allergy will not become ill if another child eats yogurt."
I suspect that you may have been thinking of lactose intolerance. In this relatively common condition, a person is unable to digest milk and dairy products, and if a child ate yogurt, it would probably not affect a child sitting next to her with lactose intolerance.
Although it is much less common than lactose intolerance, even tiny amounts of exposure to dairy products can be dangerous for people with a true milk allergy.
I will never forget a 3-year-old girl I treated in the emergency room, who nearly died of an anaphylactic reaction after sipping a small amount of milk from the girl next to her.
Food allergies can be deadly and therefore must be taken seriously.
The classroom offers an excellent opportunity to include and accept children with different needs, as you pointed out in your answer.
It may be an inconvenience for parents to bring a snack without peanuts when their "snack rotation" comes up, but imagine how much more inconvenient it is to live with this issue 24/7 in a wide variety of situations.
You cannot imagine how much I appreciate it when someone makes a gesture to bring food my daughter can eat at one of her school events (she has celiac, and gets sick if she eats food containing wheat).
Given the increase in childhood obesity I see in my patient population, I think that fruits and vegetables are superior to cookies and brownies for all children, not just kids with food allergies.
David Thoele, Chicago Pediatrician
Several concerned parents wrote in to highlight my error, and I thank you all for setting the record straight. The fact that I shared the original letter with a group of teachers and none of us caught the distinction between a dairy allergy and lactose intolerance highlights the confusion and the need for more education on this very important topic. I will run letters from parents and teachers affected by severe food allergies in future columns.
Those interested in researching food allergies -- especially anyone concerned about affected children in school settings -- should check out the Web site of the Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Network at www.foodallergy.org.
Recently, I attended an old college roommate's Sunday football party with my old friends from school.
Like myself, most of my buddies are married, in their thirties and have kids. At first, I initiated the "football" get-together because my family and I moved to a beautiful new house in the suburbs.
Unfortunately, my old roommate insisted on hosting the party at his house instead because he owns a brand-new, high-definition, wide-screen television.
During halftime, we decided to order some pizzas. When they arrived, he asked for a collection from everyone. I was appalled. I could understand "hitting up" everyone for $7 if we were poor college students, but we each have mortgages, decent jobs and can afford nice things.
First off, if I had hosted the party, I would have stocked the fridge with beer and soda and served appetizers. Above all, I would have refused any of my friends to crack open their wallets for anything because they were my guests!
If he could afford a 55-inch wide-screen, then why can't he afford pizza?
Your old pal shouldn't have hijacked your party, but because he did, the least he could have done was be a decent host.
However, I'm under the impression that football parties are a little different than other parties, with participants often bringing beer and soda and pitching in for pizza.
You could retaliate by hosting a dinner party for your friends and being a more gracious and generous host.
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