Category Archives: School Year

Food Allergy: A National and Deadly Problem

Do you wonder if you or your child might have food allergies?

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The following is an excellent article by Special to American News Report on February 21, 2012.

“Max Rosland, a 7-year-old elementary school student from Carter Lake, Iowa, was placed on a heart-lung bypass machine last month because of a severe allergic reaction to a peanut he ate at school. He survived. Ammaria Johnson, a first-grader from Richmond, Virginia went into anaphylactic shock and tragically died January 2 after eating a peanut her classmate gave her during recess.

The frequent and harrowing stories of food allergies have prompted a national outcry for schools to carry epinephrine (an emergency medicine that combats allergic reaction) and for parents to have their children tested for food allergies.

“This type of tragedy happens more often than you think,” said Darshana Alle, MD, an immunologist certified with the American Board of Allergy and Immunology, and practicing physician with the Allergy and Asthma Care Centers in Arlington, Virginia. “It’s something that parents and schools must be prepared to address.”

The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease (NIAID) reports that food allergies alone cause 30,000 anaphylactic shock episodes and 140 deaths each year.

Anaphylaxis: The Potentially Deadly Allergic Reaction

The most dreaded manifestation of food allergy is anaphylaxis, a rapid-onset allergic reaction that can cause death. It most commonly presents with skin, respiratory, cardiac or gastrointestinal symptoms, where at least two organ systems are affected. If the cardiovascular system is affected, it can lead to potential shock and death. Anaphylaxis is always a medical emergency.

Click to read more about steps parents can take to avoid tragedy.

Reference site: http://americannewsreport.com/food-allergy-a-national-and-deadly-problem-8813227.html

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Helping Families Manage Food Allergy in Schools: Tips and Tools for the Allergist and Nonallergist

If you have allergic children this is important information to talk about with your children, physician, and school or child care facility. Food allergies for kids in school and other places away from is more and more common.
The Growing Problem of Food Allergy
Food allergy is a growing epidemic in the United States. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that nearly 3 million children younger than 18 years are affected by food allergy; over the past 10 years, the number of new cases of food allergy has increased 10-fold. Food allergy can have a wide-ranging, negative effect on children and their families, affecting not only life at home but also work, education, vacation, and entertainment. Virtually no life activity remains unaffected by the presence of a potentially fatal allergy. Recognizing that there is no known cure or proven treatment, the number of cases of food allergy is expected to increase. Studies have also suggested that many food allergies persist longer than was once previously assumed. The chances are high that an individual parent or child will interact with a food-allergic person every day. Although much work has been accomplished in spreading the message that food allergens can potentially be life-threatening, a clear lack of understanding about this issue in many persons without food allergy remains. The main management strategy for food allergy — avoidance — is difficult to implement, a fact often underappreciated by unaffected individuals. Food allergy has become a global social issue, and protecting the health and self-esteem of affected children as well as the quality of life of the family, is a responsibility that must be shared by the entire community.

Click to learn tips for sending a child with food allergies to school or camp.

Source: http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/746589?src=ptalk”>Medscape Pediatrics

10 Tips for a Safe School Year

The following is a re-post from Kids with Food Allergies Foundation; check out their website for more allergy resources.

“Do school ice cream parties scare you? You’re not the only one. It’s terrifying for any parent to release their food-allergic child to “strangers” at school who have little to no understanding of food allergies. And it’s normal to feel disappointed and frustrated when your child’s class throws an ice cream party or serves an unsafe snack.

Learning to choose your battles wisely and collaborate with—instead of confront—your child’s school will help you obtain positive outcomes when issues of divisiveness surface.

What follows is a list of tips to ensure a healthy partnership between your child and his school—from a mom who’s been there.

1.   Pick your battles.

Many issues will arise. Non-negotiable ones will need to be dealt with immediately. Negotiable ones let you work to keep your child safe, while also allowing the school to accomplish what they are trying to accomplish.

2.   Provide solutions.

If your child’s principal wants all students to bring in milk jugs for an arts and crafts project, ask if your child’s class can bring in water jugs (or orange juice, lemonade or iced tea jugs instead). Planning in advance can work for class parties, too. If your child’s teacher wants to throw an ice cream party, ask if water ice or a safe sorbet could work instead. Many times, activities that appear to be blatant disregard for your child’s situation are caused by a lack of education about food allergies. Explain the severity of the situation to your child’s teacher and/or school officials, or offer to find an expert to present the topic of food allergy at a teacher meeting. Offer alternative suggestions so teachers consider asking you for advice prior to the event!

2.   Smile and stay calm (if only for appearances).

It’s true. You really do catch more bees with honey. If you have a give-and-take relationship with the school and show appreciation when events go right, they will be more apt to help you next time.

4.   Get support.

You can’t do this alone. Involve your spouse, family, friends and people you trust. Sometimes a nurse from the allergist’s office will agree to accompany you to meetings or speak to a group. If this is possible, make sure you are on the same page first—with regard to diagnosis and treatment as well as your expectations of the school.

5.   Get it in writing.

Make sure you trust and feel confident in your child’s allergist, and try to keep your relationship a positive one. Get the best possible documentation you can from your allergist.

6.   Keep your child’s self-esteem in mind.

Always consider what is in the best interest of your child. Sometimes it is healthier for you to forfeit a conflict now, so that you don’t alienate someone who could help you down the road. There are many creative ways to allow your child to participate safely without changing the activity for the rest of the class.

7.   Become an expert in substitutions.

Have your child’s teacher tap your very creative brain any time food is used in a lesson. Then, be observant and creative. Next time a teacher wants to use washed-out cream of mushroom soup cans to hold the scissors, suggest washed-out Play-Doh containers…and provide them, if possible.

8.   Grow a thick skin.

Your child’s teacher may try their hardest to convince parents not to send their child in with a peanut butter cup or Cheetos for a school snack. But, sadly, there will always be one or two people who are difficult to convince. It’s not an excuse; it’s reality. Try not to take it personally.

9.   Show you care.

Let other parents know that you would make the same accommodations for their child—and follow through. Sometimes the school is responding to outside pressure from parents who insist on keeping the school “normal.” Showing that you are a team player can alleviate the pressure.

10.   Say “Thank you” when things go right.

Show your heartfelt appreciation any time another parent, child, teacher or school staff member goes out of their way to help make life easier for you or your child. If the classroom keeps special snacks all year long to help keep your child safe, sponsor a “thank you” party, safe snack or game time at the end of the year. Send flowers or a card to the principal or school nurse. Donate a food allergy book to the school library. Or start out a meeting by thanking the attendees for being there to listen and help.

Approved by KFA’s Medical Advisory Team August 2010.”