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Communication Is Crucial to Protecting Food-Allergic Children at School

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Each back-to-school season comes with nervousness for parents and students. However, parents whose children have food allergies are often more anxious than others.

“Most parents do an excellent job during the summer of isolating their children from foods they’re allergic to, but when they go back to school, they lose control of what their kids are exposed to,” says Michelle Freas, coordinator of medical and health services at Kunsberg School on the campus of National Jewish Health. “The key to protecting food-allergic kids at school is communication with the school.”

Parents should open a dialogue with school administration,
teachers, and staff about their child’s allergies.

“Most schools deal with this year after year and have plans in place to help food allergic children, but some don’t, and each school needs to know students’ medical issues,” says Michelle. “Even if your child has been to the school the year before, it’s important to touch base every year.”

It’s also important for you to communicate with your child. Remind them not to share lunches and snacks or accept food from other classmates.

“For the most part, school-aged children are able to understand their food allergies. Talk with them about foods that are safe and unsafe,” says Michelle. “Make sure they know to talk to an adult immediately if they ate something that could be unsafe or is beginning to cause an allergic reaction.”

In addition, make sure that schools have physician-approved medication on hand in case of an allergic reaction and that the adults at the school know how to use it.

 

Source: National Jewish Health, www.nationaljewish.org

This article was originally published in Coping® with Allergies & Asthma magazine, September/October 2010.