Last week President Obama signed into law the “School Access to Emergency Epinephrine Act,” which was passed by the House and Senate at the end of October. This is definitely a step in the right direction in addressing the growing epidemic of food allergies. It has been recognized that about 25% of first-time allergic reactions to foods occur at school, and this law helps increase access to the life-saving drug epinephrine for school students and staff. Through financial incentives states are encouraged to stock epinephrine auto injectors (EpiPen or Auvi-Q) in schools for use by any student or staff member experiencing a life-threatening allergic reaction. The law also encourages training of school staff in recognizing and treating allergic reactions. Currently only four states require stock epinephrine in schools (Maryland, Nebraska, Nevada and Virginia) and many more states (including Tennessee) now allow schools to stock it if they so choose. Hopefully with more federal incentives, access to epinephrine in schools will increase and more states will require epinephrine auto injectors in all schools.
Another recent promising development in the management of food allergies at schools is the publication of the “Voluntary Guidelines for Managing Food Allergies in Schools and Early Care and Education Programs”, which was recently released by the CDC. These guidelines help schools implement food allergy management strategies or improve existing practices. By working to prevent food reactions in students with known food allergies and by improving emergency treatment should reactions occur, schools can make a safer environment for all students. More details about both of these developments can be found at FARE.