Saturday, January 31, 2009

Nursery/ daycare and allergy ignorance

I was fortunate not to have to put my baby in daycare. I quit my job after he was born and a few months later starting working part-time with my husband and was able to take the baby with me. So I didn't have to fight with a daycare center about his diet. I'm thankful for that because it was hard enough dealing with the nursery on Sunday at church. For about a year I was even afraid to let them have him for an hour. He was a good baby, so I took him in to services with me. I was so paranoid that I didn't even let his grandmother keep him at her house until he was several months old.

Once Dal started to walk, he was a little too squirmy to hold in my lap for an hour during a church service, so I finally decided to give the nursery a chance. They had great safety and security procedures, it seemed. I was asked to complete an information sheet that would be keep in a notebook in the room he was to be in. They would give me a pager so they could contact me if there were any concerns. I talked to the lady who was in charge of the nursery for that year. She agreed that they would be very careful and not feed him anything that I did not provide for him. Everything was fine. I was shoulder-patted and reassured.

After he was officially diagnosed with dairy, egg, and peanut allergies; I informed the nursery volunteers and our church's Minister to Children. They were attentive and concerned and promised that peanut products especially would be kept out of Dal's presence. I was told that on Sunday morning, the little ones were only given soda crackers and water if they wanted a little snack. I was happy that they were so caring and open to protecting my son.

A couple of weeks later though, there was trouble. We picked Dal up from the nursery and he looked a little red in the face. Later he broke out with little hives and spit up some. The next day he had eczema. At that time, we were quickly learning that he was very sensitive to his allergens and would break out with even a tiny amount of exposure. I guessed that he was getting some sort of incidental exposure to something in the nursery; probably from another child or from something in another child's diaper bag. I spoke to the nursery people about it and they assured me they would be more careful. But we continued to have problems and then one day, Dal vomited several times after church.

To make a long post shorter, we finally figured out that a volunteer in the room was bringing and giving the kids goldfish crackers. And even though this person had been told about Dal's food allergies, the volunteer somehow didn't realize that goldfish crackers meant dairy product!
So this is when I learned that I needed to get together a list of dairy ingredients and give all caregivers a short lesson on what dairy, egg and peanut products were. At first I made a list with no-no ingredients in each category and had it laminated. Later, I ordered cards from the Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Network (FAAN). I had a set of three little yellow cards: one with dairy ingredients listed, one with egg, and one with peanut.

You know, it is surprising how many people don't know what dairy or egg is in. I can understand that they may not realize some candies have egg; like the Wonka candy version of Skittles, or taffy; but it surprises me that so many people don't know that yogurt is a dairy product, and sherbert, and goldfish crackers!

So educate and advocate - that's what I say.

1 comment:

  1. scary stuff! my little one has a dairy and egg intolerance aswell, amongst a few other bits and bobs. It has certainly enlightened me as to just how wide spread dairy is in most food items. I tell you, planning a decent birthday cake for her 1st birthday should be interesting! hehe Generally nursery was fairly well behaved when it came to Jasmines diet, though I could never be 100% sure. They will never look after yours as absolutely as you do.