National Peanut Butter Day; Educate Our Kids About Food Allergies

With over six million children in the US now facing peanut and other food allergies, food allergy education in schools is a must.
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Happy National Peanut Butter Day! Before you run out with your PB&J, peanut butter smoothie, and Nutter Butter cookies to celebrate, consider the following food for thought: It takes over 540 peanuts to make a 12 ounce jar of America's most loved sandwich spread. But, according to The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology as little as 1/2000th of a peanut can cause a life threatening reaction for those severely allergic.

Author Sue Ganz-Schmitt is dedicated to teaching school children, and their parents about peanut and other food allergies through the release of her second medically inspired children's book The Princess and the Peanut: A Royally Allergic Fairytale (Wild Indigo Publishing). Her first book, Even Superheroes Get Diabetes was released in 2007.

"It is a remarkable achievement to take a real and serious condition of food allergy and seamlessly integrate it in such a fun and informative way," says Dr. LanhAnh Do, MD, about the book.

In the classic tale, The Princess and the Pea, a queen places a pea under a pile of mattresses to test a princess's claim to royalty. In Ganz-Schmitt's retelling of the tale, the royal kitchen is fresh out of peas, so a peanut is used - only to discover that the princess has a severe peanut allergy. The castle comes together to keep her safe, and a peanut butter loving prince makes a great sacrifice to have her hand.

According to the Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Network (FAAN), approximately six million children in the U.S. under the age of 18 now have food allergies. This number has doubled since studies in 1997. Additionally, FAAN states that 16-18 percent of school-age children who have food allergies have had a reaction in school. In an estimated 25 percent of the cases, the reaction occurs before the student has been diagnosed with food allergy.

With an average of two children per classroom now facing food allergies, this has become an important national issue. Increasing numbers of schools are creating peanut-free eating zones, or going peanut-free altogether, and a Senate vote is nearing to place a lifesaving allergy medication called epinephrine in every school.

Even so, a few weeks ago, seven-year-old Amarria Johnson died at her Virginia school when she had an anaphylactic reaction to a peanut that a friend innocently gave to her.

Says Ganz-Schmitt, "I wrote The Princess and the Peanut to let children with food allergies know they are not alone, and to teach others why these children absolutely cannot be exposed to certain foods. Food allergy education in schools can save lives, and inspire kids to look out for each other."

Micah Chambers-Goldberg, a Los Angeles artist, illustrator, and film director, created the magical illustrations. His artwork hints at his early career experience interning at DreamWorks Animation.

The Princess and the Peanut: A Royally Allergic Fairytale ($15.95 softcover/$22.95 hardcover) includes a kid-friendly allergy glossary and a Q&A section on food allergies for adults. The book is available at Amazon.com and other retailers.

"I do love peanut butter," says Ganz-Schmitt, "but, with 1.7 million Americans allergic to peanuts, I think it is time that we have a National Peanut-Butter-Free Day."

For more information, contact Jill Williams at 310.455.2400, or visit royallyallergic.com.