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Mom wants city oaks torn down to protect kids with nut allergies

Three acorns

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Even since an Ontario mother launched a campaign to have the oak trees near her kids' school cut down, arguing that falling acorns endanger children with severe allergies, mommy bloggers have been calling her nuts.

"Apparently, making schools nut-free facilities isn't enough!" exlaimed cafemom.com. "We now have to fear school-aged children munching on yard debris."

Donna Giustizia, appearing before the city of Vaughan, insisted that acorns dispersing from oaks on city-owned property next to St. Stephen Catholic Elementary School gave students at the nut-free facility "a false sense of security," the Star reports.

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The mere sight of acorns could trigger anxiety in an allergic child, she said, while the nuts themselves could be used by other students "to bully and torment children."

But a child would have to be forced to eat the bitter nuts to have an allergic reaction, allergists say.

"I'm not aware of any reports of children having an anaphylactic reaction upon contact with acorns, so I'm not sure what the risk really is," said Maria Asper, a pediatric allergist at Toronto's Hospital for Sick Children.

A spokesperson for York Catholic District School Board noted that custodians routinely clean up the nuts, and school staff caution students not to pick up any acorns that fall near the school grounds.

But these measures may not be enough to appease a mom bent on having a nut-free buffer zone around her kids' school.

The move to outlaw acorns is "insane," writes MommyK, commenting at Mommyish.com. "I have a severe nut allergy and have played with acorns as a kid."

Giustizia's extreme reaction to the potential acorn threat gives mothers of allergic children a bad name, says Mommyish contributor Koa Beck.

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"Your own well-intentioned freakouts have been trumped," she writes. "I believe a crown, a scepter, or at the very least, a T-shirt bearing 'Peanut Allergy Mom Of The Year' is in order."

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About the Author

Adriana Barton is based in The Globe and Mail’s Vancouver bureau. Her article on growing up with counterculture parents is published in a McGraw-Hill anthology, right after an essay by Margaret Atwood. She wishes her last name didn’t start with B. More

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