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Peanut Allergy: Is it Possible to Have a MILD Peanut Allergy?

Posted Oct 05 2009 10:00pm
Twice in the last week, someone I've come in contact at school with has brought up the concept of having a 'mild' peanut allergy. Is there such a thing?

Case 1:
We have this thing in B's class where parents bring in a snack that corresponds to a letter - so someone will bring blueberries for 'b' day, apples for 'a' day, you get the picture. So it's c day and I find out what the snack is (hoping for canteloupe). It's corn muffins - rats. So I ask if the parent has brought in a label or ingredient list. B's teacher says 'B should be able to have them - X's mom made them and he has a peanut allergy too. But his is mild, unlike B's'. I was about to give her a speech about how there are no mild nut allergies, but I shut my trap. (I've come to find out that this boy doesn't have an epi or any meds in class either - avoids peanuts, but still has mixed nuts, Planter's I suspect, in his lunch on a regular basis. yikes. That's fodder for a whole other post though.) Did I let her have the muffin? Nope. She got a treat from her treat bag.

Case 2:
B had another substitute teacher. Her first sub had a daughter with a peanut allergy (such a relief!). Today's sub was fine when I told her about B. She mentioned that her daughter is allergic to bees and is well versed in the epi (another relief!). She asked me the level of B's allergy. Was it mild? This time I did explain that there is no mild allergy, at least in my opinion. But I showed her where B's epi was in class and she was prepared. No snack today (kids bring their own most days) so I stressed to her that there shouldn't be an issue and just stressed the meds were there just in case (that's when I discovered the kid from case 1 didn't have meds in class).

So my stance is that there are no Mild Peanut Allergies. That being said, REACTIONS can be classified as mild, but a peanut allergy itself? I wouldn't go there. You can have a mild seasonal allergy but with a nut allergy, all bets are off. I haven't done a tremendous amount of research on the subject, so I can't send you to the scientific literature on pubmed, but I can say without a doubt that you can have mild reactions for years and then experience anaphylaxis, and death due to peanut ingestion. I'm just a few degrees of separation from someone who learned it the hard way.

And that's not a chance I want to take (I know - I'm so boring). So to whom it may concern: B has a severe allergy. Until that skin test and food challenge comes back negative, let's keep it that way.

In my personal opinion, people who treat their nut allergy as mild are playing with fire. What do you guys think? Has your allergist described your (or your child's) allergy to nuts as mild? Ours errs on the side of severe, no matter what the numbers say.
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