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On November 13 President Obama signed into law the Emergency Epinephrine Act. Per The White House Blog, this is the first federal law encouraging schools to have non prescribed epinephrine auto-injectors on school grounds. The law gives the Department of Health and Human Services preference for Asthma treatment grants if they maintain an emergency supply of epinephrine, permit trained personnel of the school to administer epinephrine and develop a plan for ensuring trained personnel are available to administer the epinephrine. Grants will also be reward to states for supplies of epinephrine to schools.
Epinephrine is a medication given during an anaphylaxis reaction. Anaphylaxis is a serious allergic reaction that occurs quickly and may lead to death. When anaphylaxis occurs a person may experiences itchy skin, throat swelling and a quick drop in blood pressure. Causes of anaphylaxis maybe me due to insect bites or stings, food or medication. Any person of any age can become allergic at any time. According to FARE (Food Allergy Research and Education) there are on average two children known to have allergies in a classroom. It is worth noting, however, the CDC reported that last year alone 25% of epinephrine given on school grounds involved a person with previously undiagnosed allergy.
Currently there are 30 states that have laws or guidelines that allows undesignated epinephrine use. However, there are only 27 states that have laws that require schools to have a stock of epinephrine with trained personnel. Several other states will vote this year on state epinephrine laws. On October 30th the CDC published guidelines for schools to follow. Some of the guidelines are training school and transportation staff on anaphylaxis and the uses of epinephrine, using nonfood incentives, and not excluding allergic students on field trips, events, and extracurricular activities.
We are one major step closer to helping protect allergic students in the classroom. As a food allergy parent I am excised to see what this next year brings. There are many more changes that are still needed, such as federal guideline for airlines. For now I will sit back for a moment and enjoy this major victory!
For more information, please visit the following sites:
The White House Blog: http://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/2013/11/13/president-obama-signs-new-epipen-law-protect-children-asthma-and-severe-allergies-an
Food Allergy Research and Education: https://www.foodallergy.org/
Centers for Disease Control: http://www.cdc.gov/healthyyouth/foodallergies/pdf/13_243135_A_Food_Allergy_Web_508.pdf
Written by Samantha S., MSNN Contributor
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