New Law Could Protect Kids With Severe Food Allergies

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    NEWSLETTERS

    When child have a severe allergic reaction to something they ate at school, they need a dose of epinephrine or risk losing dying. But many schools don’t stock the life-saving medication. Now a new federal law is offering incentives to schools who stock the drug. Dr. Bruce Hensel has details and advice on the NBC4 News at 5 p.m. on Thursday, Jan. 2, 2014.

    Childhood food allergies have increased by 50 percent since 1997.

    In some cases, just smelling peanuts can lead to a life-threatening reaction. Even scarier for parents, 1 in 4 of these allergic reactions occur at school where there may be no way to treat the allergy or save the child’s life.

    Now the authors of a new federal law are hoping to change that by providing a financial incentive for schools to stock epinephrine injectors.

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    These portable syringes contain adrenaline and can reverse an allergic reaction with a simple shot in the leg. The law offers grants to states that pass laws requiring the medication to be kept on campus.

    Currently, in California, state law allows schools to keep extra epinephrine on campus but doesn’t require them to do so.

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    The Los Angeles Unified School District, for example, keeps epinephrine on campus for students who already know they have severe food allergies and who have a prescription from their doctor.

    But the district does not provide extra does for those cases where students are caught by surprise, those who don’t have a prescription, or who have a first time reaction while at school.

    Parents can help protect their kids by being aware of the symptoms.

    These include:

    • Shortness of breath
    • Wheezing
    • Confusion
    • Unconsciousness

    Parents should also get their children tested for food allergies. And if the test comes back positive, make sure you keep the “epi-pens” in the house and at school. If you don’t know your school’s policy about epinephrine, ask your principal and insist that they keep some on campus.

    Response from the National Peanut Board:

    According to a study by Steven J. Simonte and Scott H. Sicherer, airborne exposure, like smell, does not affect the body systemically (i.e. an anaphylactic reaction); therefore, just smelling a peanut cannot cause someone to go into anaphylactic shock. If symptoms do occur it generally includes sneezing, running nose and/or coughing. In order for an individual with a peanut allergy to have a severe allergic reaction, the protein must be ingested.