Observations Only Connect

This allergies hysteria is just nuts

BMJ 2008; 337 doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmj.a2880 (Published 10 December 2008) Cite this as: BMJ 2008;337:a2880
  1. Nicholas A Christakis, professor of medical sociology, Harvard Medical School, and attending physician, Mt Auburn Hospital, Cambridge, Massachusetts
  1. christak{at}hcp.med.harvard.edu

    Measures to control nuts are instead making things worse in a cycle of over-reaction and increasing sensitisation

    At this time of year many municipal elementary schools in the United States, including the one attended by my children, raise money by selling wrapping paper and candy. This year parents in our school were told that they could no longer pick up their purchases from their children’s classrooms. Instead they had to pick up their orders from a loading dock at specified times, to avoid a danger to the children.

    The danger? Some of the orders contained sealed tins of festive nuts. Out of an overabundance of caution the school decided not to allow any of the items on the premises. This decision came on the heels of another recent event: a peanut was spotted on the floor of a school bus, whereupon the bus was evacuated and cleaned (I am tempted to say decontaminated), even though it was full of 10 year olds who, unlike 2 year olds, could actually be told not to eat food off the floor.

    The number …

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