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Thursday, May 25, 2017

Hidden Dangers at School: Where You Least Expect Them

For those families who have children with food allergies, back-to-school planning could mean a particularly stressful, anxiety-ridden time developing strategies and emergency plans to protect against a possible fatal reaction to food.

 

Risks extend beyond the cafeteria menu into the classroom where food could be used in art paints or props used during math, science or art projects, or on the school bus and on field trips. According to The Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Network (FAAN), the nation’s leading nonprofit, patient advocacy organization providing education and awareness on food allergy and anaphylaxis, the majority of allergic reactions to foods occur from foods used during class projects or as incentives in the classroom.

 

"Often, parents and school staff think about avoiding allergens such as peanuts, milk products, or other foods in the lunchroom. Recent studies have shown the majority of allergy reactions take place in the classroom," said Anne Munoz-Furlong, Founder and CEO of FAAN.

 

Currently, more than two million school-aged children have food allergies, which cause an estimated 30,000 emergency room visits and an estimated 150-200 deaths annually for both children and adults.

 

 Any prop or project that contains food in a school setting increases the risk for causing a reaction to any of the top eight allergens — milk, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, fish, shellfish, wheat, and soy. For example, peanuts may be used as a "glue" to hold foods together; or used peanut jars may hold crayons. Wheat can be found in papier mache, while egg is sometimes used to thicken tempera paint.

 

Specific steps to be taken by families before sending a child with severe allergies back to school or child care:

 

  • Meet with school staff before the school year starts to go over all
    allergy needs, from cafeteria and snacks, to potential hidden danger
    areas.
  • Go through art and science supply closets to check materials and labels.
  • Make sure teachers feel free to call you any time during the school year
    to check on new materials that might come in or potentially questionable
    projects.
  • Suggest substituting food rewards with stickers, pencils, erasers, or
    little toys.

Source: The Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Network

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