Following the deaths of two schoolgirls in Illinois and Virginia as a result of severe allergic reactions to food, the fight to make schools more prepared to address such an emergency has reached the highest level: the US President’s desk. President Barack Obama is expected to sign a bipartisan bill this week that would provide states with federal funds if they establish safety protocols for dealing with severe food allergies in schools.
One of the primary requirements of the bill for the states that wish to have access to these federal funds, is that schools must stockpile sufficient amounts of epinephrine, an adrenaline injection that is recognized as a first-line of treatment of a severe allergic attack (called anaphylaxis). Epinephrine is injected through the use of EpiPens, or similar quick and easy-to-use devices.
In additional to epinephrine, the schools are expected to restrict access to foods that are high-risk for severe allergies, and to give food choices and lunch areas to children with a known high risk of an allergy attack.
The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is expected to issue its first ever guideline for schools on how to prepare for and deal with severe allergy attacks in schoolchildren. The guideline are voluntary, but are usually adopted by the majority of schools in the United States.
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