ThinkstockPhotos-508446509Having food allergies (specifically to peanuts) might prevent you and your family from attending certain events, but baseball in Seattle hopefully won’t be one of them. The Seattle Mariners are offering 5 “peanut-controlled” games this season at Safeco Field. No peanuts will be allowed in sections 313, 314 and 315 in the view box level during these games. And although fans should note that peanut-controlled does not mean the game will be entirely peanut-free, this does offer a new way to improve safety for children with serious allergies. The Mariners certainly deserve an “Atta Boy!” for this one. (More game information below).

While peanut allergies have doubled in the past decades and are reported to have tripled between 1997 and 2008, they are just one food allergy of the nearly 400,000 school-aged children who suffer from mild to severe reactions if exposed to an allergen. Some food allergies are serious and life-threatening.

One in every 13 children has a food allergy so this isn’t a rare experience for children or their families. How we support our own children and children in the environment, at school, in sports, and at our homes is also changing. We really are perhaps becoming more compassionate and sophisticated (peanut-free tables, thoughtful policies for birthday treats, more open discussions about how best to include children with dietary restrictions). The Mariners games are just a lovely example of how to do things better at scale.

When To Introduce Peanuts To Babies?

Data is still evolving for recommendations for all babies, but about a year ago (March, 2015), new recommendations (comprehensive blog post) were given regarding introducing certain foods to babies. The New England Journal of Medicine found if allergy-prone infants were introduced to peanuts early in life (between 4 and 11 months of age) their risk of peanut allergy at age 5 years significantly decreased. The current American Academy of Pediatrics policy on food allergy introduction (revised in 2008) states there is insufficient evidence to support delayed introduction of potential food allergens to reduce the risk of developing allergies. This means holding back on foods during infancy isn’t recommended! Try introducing things like wheat, egg, soy & fish before 12 months. We’re moving towards not waiting on any foods in late infancy and this data on peanuts is the beginning of understanding creating recommendations to start foods early. More data will help make these recommendations for all babies. Check in with your baby’s doctor with any questions or concerns, especially if food allergies run in the family.

Some Good News:

  • Allergies develop early in life, but up to 20 percent of kids will thankfully outgrow them. Often allergies to peanuts are lifelong but common allergies to other foods (milk, soy, egg) are fortunately often outgrown by the time children reach age 16. We’re learning that the earlier introduction of foods may protect children from developing allergies in the first place, but data is still unfolding.
  • Food allergies are Americans with Disability Act (ADA) protected. If you are concerned a child in your life is not being protected, included or supported, don’t hesitate to speak out.

Some Not So Good News:

  • 1/3 of children with food allergies are bullied because of them. I find this entirely unacceptable and something all of us can work to improve, food allergies in our children or not. Because roughly ½ the time children don’t tell their parents they are being bullied this is going to take proactive steps by all parents and school-goers (see tips here: “Food Allergy Bullying It’s Not A Joke”)

Seattle Mariners Peanut-Controlled Game Information:

  • Safeco Field is an open-air ballpark, and peanuts will be present in other areas of the ballpark. They will make reasonable efforts to post signs restricting peanut products from this section and clean in advance, but cannot guarantee the absence of peanut particles or residue.
  • Fans with peanut allergies should take all precautions that they customarily take in public places.
  • For the least peanut-exposed path to your ticketed area, please enter Safeco Field through the Right Field Gate and walk up the ramps immediately to your right. (This entrance is on the SE corner of the ballpark on Edgar Martinez Drive S. near the train tracks and parking garage).
  • The concession stand closest to this section will not be selling peanuts for these five games.
  • Seating area will be cleaned and checked just prior to the gates being opened.

Mariners Peanut 1

Mariners Peanut 2