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Monday, April 5, 2010

Keeping children with allergic diseases safe at school

Allergic diseases often occur early in life and many children present severe symptoms while at school. It is important that parents inform schoolteachers and nurses of the possible occurrence of severe allergic reactions (to foods in particular) or severe asthma, and that teachers and staff can act quickly if a reaction occurs.

A task force representing the EAACI and GA2LEN has published a position paper in Allergy that presents the case for adoption of school-based programs that identify allergic children and take responsibility for training staff and implementing appropriate interventions for their well-being (Muraro et al. 25 March 2010, online ahead of print).

The task force consensus presents an allergic child’s bill of rights and outlines the structure of school-based responsibility, physician/parent/teacher roles, and a ground plan for anaphylaxis management.

The platform includes descriptions of asthma, eczema, food allergy and anaphylaxis in the context of school presentation, allergic triggers, challenges facing schools, and suggested intervention actions that schools might enforce. Anaphylaxis management has additional guidance that includes acute management and recommended standing medications for school health clinics.

The task force concludes with a brief discussion of a few nationalized efforts to establish uniform approaches to school-based care of allergic children in the US, UK, and Australia, with attendant identification of liability for school personnel.

[For more on this topic, please see the August 2009 JACI issue, which featured reviews on managing food allergies in schools, indoor allergens in schools and day cares, and school-based asthma programs.

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