Worry over nut allergy knocks out school conkers for six

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The Independent Online

Fear of nut allergy has spread through the country like, well, like an allergic reaction. So far it has been confined to edible things. But now a primary school has banned its children from playing conkers.

Fear of nut allergy has spread through the country like, well, like an allergic reaction. So far it has been confined to edible things. But now a primary school has banned its children from playing conkers.

The 385 pupils at Ivy Lane primary school in Chippenham, Wiltshire, will miss out on the centuries-old game, as the school's governors have become worried about playground squabbles and, in particular, about one pupil who suffers from an unusually severe allergy to nuts.

Maureen Lloyd, head of the governors, said they had already decided to ban conkers, but since the recent enrolment of a child with a severe nut allergy, the ban has been rigidly enforced.

"It really is a very serious allergy - any contact with nuts of any kind could result in the child's death," Mrs Lloyd said. "We believe prevention is better than cure and that it was better for us to err on the side of caution."

According to the Anaphylaxis Campaign, one in 200 children is allergic to some kind of nut. For some children, just touching a nut is enough to precipitate an allergic reaction, which normally involves swelling, pain and sometimes fever. In extreme cases the child may be so sensitive that they go into profound shock and collapse. If they do not receive immediate medical attention, the effect can be fatal.

Presumably, the change will please the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents, which recently warned children to be aware of the more traditional dangers of climbing trees and throwing sticks to bring down choice conkers.

But the health lobby will be on children's backs for being couch potatoes. It's hard work having innocent fun these days.

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