A Sept. 5 Metro story reported on an attempt by a Gaithersburg elementary school principal to eliminate a lengthy list of dangerous foods from kids' lunch boxes in order to protect one child who has a life-threatening peanut allergy. The list includes peanut butter, chocolate, hydrolyzed plant protein -- found in many cookies and crackers -- and any baked goods.
I have had to deal with my 16-year-old daughter's potentially fatal peanut allergy, including her severe hives and itching, projectile vomiting and anaphylactic shock. We have made frantic trips to the emergency room as her breathing was failing. We, too, have had to carry EpiPens and nebulizers everywhere and have had to sensitize teachers, family and friends to our daughter's problem.
At our request, our daughter's teachers in the early school years placed her classmates on alert. Projects in her classroom did not include peanut products. During lunch, she ate away from the main tables at a desk of her own. Every day she could invite one friend -- with a peanut-free lunch -- to join her in her corner of the cafeteria. This was a reasonable approach to accommodate her serious allergy problem that also has a minimal impact on the rights of others to enjoy nutritious and economical foods. The main line of defense has to be our daughter's own vigilance. The problem is ours -- not society's. Peanuts cannot and should not be removed from the world.
An attempt to control the child's environment in school by limiting everyone else's choices, as described in the article, could have unintended negative consequences. The child might not develop the survival tactics of constant and extreme vigilance if he, or his family, expects the world around him to change for his benefit.
The extreme measures in the article are neither necessary nor ultimately helpful -- to the child or society in general. It is just not practical or reasonable to expect everyone else to exclude all these foods from their diets.
SONIA A. RUSSO
I read with interest the article regarding the child at Stedwick Elementary with the peanut allergy. As a parent, a nurse and a paramedic, I was appalled that some parents were angry about having to curtail what their children eat. What they don't understand is that this type of allergy is life-threatening. I have seen it firsthand and can attest to the fact that people do die from allergies of this type (called anaphylactic reactions).
Is it so much to ask to change one's lunch-making style a little and be a little more considerate of others? If the parents of the child with the allergy have not already done so, they should contact the closest fire department and the emergency communications center in Rockville to let them know of the child's allergy. This way, they will have a step up on the situation, if it arises.
LISA K. LARSON