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Food Allergy: Back-to-School Tips

Back-to-School Tips:  Food Allergies in Elementary School-Aged Children

For children with food allergies, returning to school can be a time of concern and even fear for the child as well as their parents.  A food allergic reaction can be potentially severe and is called anaphylaxis. A smooth transition into school can be accomplished by developing a coordinated, pro-active plan with the school and your physician.  He is a short checklist:

Meet with the teacher, principal, school nurse, and food service coordinator.

  • Identify the food(s) that need to be avoided and review the symptoms of the child’s allergic reaction
  • Discuss avoidance of the particular food(s; for example: no food sharing, use a placemat where only safe foods can be.  A separate table is not usually necessary for older children.
  •  Identify “safe” and “unsafe” foods; if age appropriate, teach how to read a food label.
  • Have a plan for cafeteria, classroom, bus, and other school-sponsored activities
  • Have clearly labeled “safe snacks” available for the child
  • Send a sack lunch or meet with food service personnel to review menus to identify “safe meals” and discuss “cross contamination” through using common utensils.
  • Review the correct use and indications of the self-injectable epinephrine (EpiPenTM) and discuss the location of the epinephrine so it is immediately available if needed.
  • Identify if your child has asthma as this increases the risk for a severe food reaction

Provide the school with a Food Allergy Action Plan signed by your doctor; see  www.foodallergy.org/

  • Contains information on symptoms of an allergic reaction, when and how to use medications, contact information, photo, and follow up.

Provide school with self-injectable epinephrine (EpiPenTM or EpiPen, Jr. TM based on child’s weight); check expiration date.

Provide child with medical identification as a bracelet, necklace or other form. They come in various styles and colors.  There are many places these can be obtained.  Our daughter is very happy with the bracelet from Lauren’s Hope (www.laurenshope.com).

Check with your allergist….he/she may be willing to give a presentation to your school or classroom.  I’m willing and available— just ask!

This information is solely for informational purposes and not intended as a substitute for consultation with a medical professional. 

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