Saturday, September 11, 2004

Mister Peanut...Friend or Foe?

One of the things new parents learn quickly is that your young darling should not eat peanuts. I heard about this in some baby book that warned about the severity of nut allergies and that babies and toddlers can have life-threatening reactions to just a small exposure to the Evil Peanut.

So...we have been avoiding giving Alex peanuts. No peanut butter. No chocolate chip cookies with walnuts (Evil Sibling of Evil Mister Peanut). No Pad Thai (okay, he really wouldn't miss that one). Once you start looking, everything fun has nuts in it!

Anyway, I got sick of all the "tip-toeing around the peanut" that we were doing, so the other night during dinner, I rubbed a peanut on Alex. Yes, I actually took a peanut and rubbed it on his arm. "What will that prove?" you may ask. Well, I'd heard that some peanut allergies are so severe that someone inflicted often can't even stand to be in contact with the peanut oil, so I figured if he had a reaction to the peanut rub, he had a peanut allergy. We would know the truth and could move on.

Of course, since we have been brainwashed to fear the Evil Peanut, Loving Husband was horrified! "What if he would have had a reaction?!" he ranted. "But he didn't", I cleverly countered.

Following this, we had dinner with some friends and I mentioned the Nut Rub Experiment. One friend said, "Well, you know that with kids, the first exposure actually may cause the antibodies to form that produce the allergy" (or something scientific crap like that). Uh-oh, I thought. Had I just caused Alex to have an allergy? Oh crap!

But then, I had lunch with another friend, who informed me that her sister had been given her two kids peanut butter since age 8 months! "Horrors! How can that be?" I asked. "What about allergies?" "Allergies?", she said. "No, you don't give them peanuts because they can CHOKE on them, not because of allergies". I was confused (not an unfamiliar state for me).

Is Mister Peanut the Big Bad or just a Harmless Scapegoat?  I still don't know the truth.


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