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Don’t let food allergies ruin your child’s school year

Just like meeting homework deadlines and figuring out transportation to and from extracurricular activities, managing your child’s food allergies at school requires planning.

Food allergies affect 4-6 percent of children in the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Incredibly, eight foods are responsible for 90 percent of all allergic reactions: milk, eggs, peanuts, soy, wheat, other nuts, fish and shellfish. These cause the immune system to mistake the food item as a threat and actually attack the body.

Steps to help keep food allergies in check

Whether it’s a bothersome bout of hives or a life-threatening case of anaphylaxis, allergies can cause severe disturbances to a child’s school day. Take these steps to help keep food allergies in check:

  • Know your food allergies: Be aware of exactly what food allergies you may have and what types of food might trigger them. There are tests available to check if an allergy exists.
  • Tell others: Meet with the principal and nurse to let them know about your child’s condition and bring along a letter from your pediatrician or allergist. From there, you can develop a health plan for your child throughout the school year.
  • Read labels: If you’re making lunch for your child to take to school, carefully check the ingredients on food labels to make sure they don’t contain anything that may trigger a food allergy. Be sure to read all of the ingredients.
  • Don’t take chances: The only real treatment for food allergies is avoidance. If you aren’t sure if your child is allergic to a certain food, or just what might be in it, take a pass.
  • Ask about epinephrine: Many people carry an EpiPen® in case of a severe reaction. If your doctor prescribes it, be sure to keep one at home, school or work. Know how to use it in case of emergency.