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Significant Increase in Students with Food Allergies Reported by School Nurses

Armen Hareyan's picture

Food Allergies

As U.S. teachers prepare classrooms for the upcoming school year, school nurses and students with food allergies need to do some early homework of their own. According to The Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Network (FAAN), www.foodallergy.org school nurses nationwide are reporting an increase in students with food allergies, and safety precautions should be taken to protect food-allergic students from reactions.

"With the number of school nurses reporting an increase in food allergies, schools and students need to work together to create a safe environment," said Anne Munoz-Furlong, founder and CEO of FAAN. "There is a need, now more than ever, for standardized training programs for school staff to address this growing public health and food safety issue."

The findings of the 2004 study, Impact of Food Allergies on School Nursing Practice, reinforced what many in the medical community and educators have believed for years. Food allergies are a growing public health and food safety concern in the classroom. In the study, conducted by FAAN, 60% of the school nurses reported an increase in elementary-school-age students with food allergies in the classroom over the last five years. Nearly 94% of school nurses reported having at least one child with food allergies in their school. More than one-third of the nurses indicated that they had 10 or more students in the school with food allergies, and 87% stated that, compared with other health-related issues, food allergies among school-age children are somewhat or very serious.

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There is no cure for food allergies, so strict avoidance is the only way to prevent severe or life-threatening reactions. More than 11 million Americans have food allergies, and approximately 3 million children under the age of 18 or 1-in-25 American children, have a food allergy.

Safeguarding a child against a food-allergic reaction at school takes the cooperation and understanding of all parents, doctors, school administrators, teachers, school nurses, food service staff, and classmates. Many times, however, this is the sole responsibility of the school nurse, who may care for more than 500 students per school.

Students can work with the school nurse and other school administrators by Taking CARE:

C arry your medicine with you everywhere. Even if you don't plan to eat when you go to football games, or when you head to a friend's house after school, be prepared to treat an allergic reaction anyway. It's better to be safe than sorry!