Protect Your Allergic Child in School

Parents need to meet with school staff to discuss children's food sensitivities

TUESDAY, Sept. 2, 2003 (HealthDayNews) -- If you're the parent of a child with food allergies, you need to make some back-to-school preparations.

That suggestion comes from the Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Network (FAAN).

"Parents must be guides and coaches for teachers, cafeteria staff and others. Clear communication and a cooperative spirit are the most important tools for working with school staff," Anne Munoz-Furlong, FAAN founder and chief executive officer, says in a news release.

The first step is to arrange a meeting with school staff to discuss your child's food allergy. Meet with the principal, teachers, counselors, nurse and cafeteria workers to share information and provide feedback.

"Be positive and encourage questions. Request, ahead of time, any forms necessary for a child to have medications at school. Don't forget to ask about the use of food in arts and crafts, lesson plans and other school activities," Munoz-Furlong advises.

When you meet with school staff, bring along all the medications that your child needs, along with completed medical forms and a Food Allergy Action Plan. Highlight food allergy information on all forms. Demonstrate the use of an epinephrine auto-injector if you child's doctor has prescribed one.

Work with school staff to create emergency response plans should your child suffer and allergic reactions at school. You can find a free Food Allergy Action Plan form and other resources at the FAAN Web site.

"Food allergy, although a potentially serious medical condition, is not a frightening challenge when everyone is working together. A school's collective knowledge of how to avoid risks will ensure a safe and successful school year for everyone," Munoz-Furlong says.

About 7 million people in the United States have food allergies, including about 3 million teens and children under age 18.

More information

Here's where you can learn more about food allergies.

SOURCE: PRNewswire, news release, August 2003
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