Parents of allergic kids get ready for the new school year, raise awareness

Having food allergies is tough, especially for kids.

Just as difficult is getting ready for a new school year, where it’s more challenging for parents to control contact with allergens that could set off a potentially life-threatening reaction in their child.

About 6 to 8 percent of kids in the U.S. have a food allergy. Symptoms range from mild, such as a hives, to serious, such as difficulty breathing and anaphylactic shock.

Eight foods are responsible for the majority of allergic reactions: milk, peanuts, eggs, wheat, fish, soy, shellfish and tree nuts, such as walnuts.

But given the increasing prevalence of food allergies, schools are taking notice, according to an article on MSNBC.com, which chronicles the back-to-school preparation parents with food allergic kids are taking.

Some schools are switching to “no-nut” policies, especially peanuts. But mostly, it’s about educating the child, school personnel and other students about what food allergies are and to recognize the signs of an attack, according to the article.

So, what do you do if you’re a parent with a food allergic child or a school staff member? The Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Network has resources for dealing with food allergies in schools:

  • Recognize the signs of an allergic reaction. These include swelling, hives, rash, nausea, vomiting, gastrointestinal symptoms, shortness of breath, trouble swallowing, a drop in blood pressure and loss of consciousness.
  • Be familiar with epinephrine injectors, which many food allergic people carry on them. Epinephrine helps negate the effects of an allergic reaction, especially severe ones that cause anaphylaxis. If left untreated, anaphylaxis can cause death.
  • If you’re a parent, inform the school of your child’s allergy.
  • Clean areas that food has touched thoroughly.
  • Read food labels.
  • Create a Food Allergy Action Plan.

Read the full story from MSNBC here.

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