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Food allergy ‘ABC’s: New checklist helps parents, school staff prepare

Food allergy ‘ABC’s: New checklist helps parents, school staff prepare

Posted: Monday, August 18, 2008 8:03 am

MILWAUKEE – As more than 2.2 million children with food allergies head back to school in coming weeks, the American Academy of Allergy Asthma & Immunology (AAAAI) encourages parents, in cooperation with school staff, to take measures to ensure safety. “Open and frequent communication between parents and school staff is a key ingredient to keeping food-allergic students out of harm,” said Michael Pistiner, MD, MMSc, whose own nut-allergic son enters kindergarten this fall. “It takes a partnership to establish effective avoidance strategies and emergency plans.” To assist parents and school staff as they prepare for students with food allergies, the AAAAI offers a checklist of tips and a sample food allergy action plan. Both resources can be downloaded at no cost at www.aaaai.org. Among the tips included in the checklist: Inform the school cafeteria, teachers and other staff of what foods to avoid. Pack bag lunches. Have your child avoid classroom snacks and sharing food with friends. Send safe snacks to school anytime the classroom is having a party (birthday, holidays, etc.). Advocate for “no eating” policies on buses and in other settings where kids aren’t supervised. Another important consideration: “Parents should be aware of expiration dates and keep in contact with their allergist to insure that all medication, especially self-injectable epinephrine, is replaced prior to expiration,” said Pistiner, a member of the AAAAI Adverse Reactions to Foods Committee. The AAAAI checklist also offers guidance for students with asthma and other allergic diseases. An allergist/immunologist is the best-qualified medical professional to diagnose and treat food allergies. Once an allergy trigger is identified, an allergist/immunologist can provide detailed information on avoidance. The AAAAI offers food allergy fact sheets, educational brochures and other resources for patients and school staff online at www.aaaai.org. The Web site also features a physician referral directory to help patients locate an allergist/immunologist in their area. The AAAAI represents allergists, asthma specialists, clinical immunologists, allied health professionals and others with a special interest in the research and treatment of allergic disease. Established in 1943, the AAAAI is the United States’ largest professional membership organization dedicated to the allergy/immunology specialty. The AAAAI has nearly 6,500 members in the United States, Canada and 60 other countries. Posted 8.18.08