Parents fearing for their kids is normal. With car accidents and drug use on the rise in some parts of the country, it’s not irrational to worry. But to worry over a kiss? It’s a reality for one family.
Dawn Cofini worries her son Stone could die if anyone kissed him. “If a girl had previously eaten something fried in peanut oil [and then kissed Stone],” Dawn told the N.Y. Post, “it would really be dangerous.”
Stone is allergic to peanuts. If he were to inhale even a little dust laced with them, it could send him into fatal anaphylactic shock. While the odds of death-by-kiss might seem low, the scenario is not unimaginable. Four years ago 20-year-old Myriam Ducré-Lemay of Quebec died after receiving a peanut-laced kiss from her boyfriend.
According to a study at Mount Sinai Hospital, the number of patients with nut-related cases rose between 1997 and 2010 from 0.4 percent to 1.4. The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology reported in 2014 that 2,458 people died in the U.S. from anaphylaxis over an 11-year period.
Anaphylaxis is a severe allergic reaction caused by food allergies and insect bites. Worldwide, up to 2 percent of the population have experienced it. Someone suffering respiratory anaphylaxis will have restricted airways and their oxygen cut off, resulting in the most serious cases in death by asphyxiation.
Preventative measures such as carrying an injection of epinephrine, commonly called an “epipen,” and cards identifying a sufferer’s condition are common. More extreme methods can include face masks and full-body coverings.
Stone’s mother is considering preventing the 16-year-old from dating. But lucky for Stone there’s a new treatment catching on, and he’ll soon be one of the many with nut allergies to try it. Oral Immunotherapy (OIT) administers small amounts of peanut flour to patients to gradually build up their immunity. The treatment is done under strict safety conditions.
“Now that he’s an adolescent, we can’t watch over him 24/7. We’ve had to teach him to advocate for himself.” Dawn told the Post.
Nut allergies are particularly troubling for young children and adolescents as their rate of exposure to nuts can be significantly higher. The classic peanut-butter sandwich, a staple of school lunchrooms for decades, has found itself increasingly unwelcome in common dining areas for students.
Some schools have gone completely “nut free” in order to mitigate the risk to students. Some have designated tables for students that wish to consume foods containing nuts or nut oil.
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