Peanut-Containing Products in Children's Hospitals: Putting Pediatric Patients at Risk
Saturday, March 5, 2016
South Exhibit Hall H (Convention Center)
Laura A. Fletcher, Tammy Pham, Maguire Herriman, Bridget Kiely, Ruth Milanaik, Gregory A. Rosner, MD
Rationale: Peanut allergy affects approximately 2% of all children in the US. In the presumed safety of a pediatric hospital setting, the presence of peanut-containing products (PP) in vending machines (VM) and nutritional closets (NC) poses an unnecessary risk to children’s health. Our study examines the prevalence of PP found in close proximity to pediatric units and emergency departments (ED) of hospitals in the US. 

Methods:  Residents from 52 pediatric hospitals completed an online survey about their hospital. The survey asked if there were PP in the NC on pediatric floors and, if so, what they were. Residents were also asked to send in a picture of the VM closest to the Pediatric ED. Research personnel calculated the frequency of hospitals that carried at least one PP in their ED VM. Comparisons across categorical variables were performed using Chi-square analysis.

Results: Of the 42 hospitals that submitted a photo, 41 (97.6%) had at least one PP in the VM nearest the Pediatric ED. Of all surveyed hospitals, 59.6% had PP in the NC on the patient floors themselves. 

Conclusions:  Despite the prevalence of peanut allergy, the overwhelming majority of children’s hospitals surveyed unnecessarily exposed their patients to peanut products. While many schools and early care and education centers have banned all peanut-containing products, most hospitals have yet to do so.  The AAP and the American Medical Association should address this simple precautionary step that could have lasting implications for child safety.