Thursday, May 03, 2007
PEANUT ALLERGIES - A HOME-MADE PROBLEM?
I read this article on the BBC today with interest. I have wondered for some time now whether we in the UK aren't actually causing this explosion of nut allergies we are seeing. I know several kids with severe nut allergies. Given I work with foreign languages and am known for it in Marcel and Charlotte's school community, I have lost count of the number of parents who have come to me over the years. The question is always the same - My kid has a life-threatening nut allergy, could you translate this into French/German/whatever so I can take it on holiday with me. Invariably the piece of paper I am handed says something along the lines: Can you cater for my child's nut allergy? Can you guarantee your products and kitchen surfaces haven't been touched by nuts? Almost always after the school break, the same parent rings me, thanking me profusely for the translation but saying that the restaurant in France, Italy or Germany has looked at them as if they were from another planet and given them, at best, a plate of pasta with a tinned tomato sauce. The reason being these countries don't seem to be suffering the same explosion of nut problems. When I had Marcel I was told strictly to avoid all nut products throughout pregnancy, breastfeeding and until he was 3. I completely ignored this advice, ate my crunchy nut cornflakes, even when I was in labour and often as he suckled at the breast - why? Because I had eaten nuts all my life, all of my family had and I thought this was extremist scare-mongering. Marcel has no problems with nuts. I did the same with Charlotte - she doesn't like nuts but has no allergy either. Interestingly, while being given this terrifying advice by UK GPs, I was over showing Marcel off to the French family when he was 16 weeks old. I decided to buy the odd jar of baby food for him as it was too much hassle to home-cook on a 1 week trip. And what were they selling in the French supermarket (a country which struggles to understand the concept 'nut allergy' as very few have it?) Nut-flavoured baby food suitable from 4 months old, of course. It doesn't seem like rocket science to me. I will watch the outcome of the study with interest.