Food Allergies and Kids: How to Keep Them Safe at School

As a parent, it’s important to keep our kids safe at all times. If your child has a food allergy, watching them walk away, stepping onto the bus each day, can be unsettling. Birthday party celebrations with treats and sharing snacks at school can turn an innocent activity into something severe when food allergies are present. It doesn’t put a mind at ease either when the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) cite that approximately 25 percent of severe reactions at school are by children that have had no previous diagnosis of a food allergy.

The good news is that educators and administrators are aware of the imminent food allergies present in today’s children and are also aware of the food allergy increase: a 50% increase between the years 1997 and 2011 are based on a 2013 study by the CDC.  Because of the existence of food allergies, it’s imperative that information is made available to schools, parents and caregivers. As parents, we know that if our child has a food allergy, everyone needs to adapt. In the schools across the United States and nationwide, the same rings true and accommodations are being made.

Want to keep your child safe at school? Be proactive. An organization called FARE (Food Allergy Research and Administration) has partnered with the CDC and others to make sure everyone is managing food allergies effectively, at home and at school. You can visit their website for information at www.foodallergy.org. One of the best things a parent can do when they discover a food allergy is present is to become an “expert” in your child’s particular allergy and also be acquainted with your child’s school and how they manage food allergies.

When your child is at school, it’s important that their educators and supervisors know about the allergy. Partnering with all of the key people in your child’s life, from coaches to teachers to bus drivers, will be crucial to keeping your child safe. Make sure you communicate with the key personnel, so they know what the food allergy is, reactions, and management in case there is ever a time medication needs to be administered.

At Association of Childcare Physicians, we will help you by preparing and providing a Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Emergency Care Plan that will need to be submitted to the school, along with at least one epinephrine injector or other medication based on your daughter or son’s allergy. Make sure you know where the epi-pen is located at the school and who has access to it. It’s also important to know who will administer the medication in case there is ever an emergency and all of the processes in place.

Another key element to keeping your child safe is to communicate with your child’s teacher the role of food in their classroom. Are baked goods allowed? Is it an allergy-free classroom? Find out ways the teacher ensures that children with allergies are not exposed to certain foods when at school. It’s also important to talk to the cafeteria management staff to make sure everyone at the school and in your family understands the routine and how children with food allergies remain safe and healthy. 

Most importantly, help your child understand the significance of their allergy and give them tools to manage it. Explain that making good choices will prevent any allergic reactions, illness and discomfort. Let them know they have a team of people there to help and protect them and that keeping them safe is their number one priority. Together, everyone involved in your child’s life can successfully prevent an allergic reaction from happening.

Do you have questions about your child’s allergy or believe that an undiagnosed allergy may be present? Give us a call to schedule an appointment at 618-235-2311, visit us online at https://childcarephysicians.com/, or email us at info@childcarephysicians.com. Dr. Shaw and Dr. Kellow places their patient’s health and wellness as a priority and understands that a food allergy diagnosis can be overwhelming. The Association of Childcare Physicians can offer tools and information to put your mind at ease.