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The Informed Parent

The Peanut Butter Kid

by John H. Samson, M.D., F.A.A.P.
Published on Oct. 14, 2013


Jody’s parents were perplexed at their six-year-old’s current behavior. This mild-mannered child had always been a gregarious, happy, people-pleasing little girl. Within the past six months her disposition had turned surly and obstinate. She was proving to be a difficult child in school. Now she was overactive and easily distracted. She had not behaved like this as a kindergartener. Even at home she was becoming a real behavior problem.

When her parents brought Jody into see me with this complaint we did a complete evaluation examination to discount any physical causes. None were found. She was a perfectly healthy six-year-old. All indications showed that she had no trouble in school socializing with her peers. She loved school and her teacher.

For completeness sake we evaluated her for food allergies. All the tests were negative, except for a positive reaction to peanuts. It was then that the plot began to thicken. Mom recalled that since first grade necessitated a packed lunch the mainstay of Jody’s midday meal became a peanut butter sandwich. Prior to this her contact with peanut butter had been nil. I suggested we remove all peanut products from her diet. This necessitated that Mom began reading labels on all processed foods.

Within four weeks Jody returned to her past lovely self. In order to “test the water” and make sure, peanut butter was reintroduced just once more. In 72 hours Jody had transformed into her “Mr. Hyde” personality. At this point all peanut products were again removed and all was well. The parents and I were convinced there was a relationship between Jody’s eating peanut butter and her behavior.

Grandma apparently was not convinced. On her own, during baby-sitting stints, Jody was repeatedly given peanut butter. The negative behavior surfaced again. This confused the issue considerably. It took precious time and investigation to finally discover the source of the peanut supplier. At long last all adults in contact with Jody were of one mind in agreeing to abstain the product from this child.


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