While parents of children diagnosed with food allergies battle to keep their kids safe, a new study shows that it is not only their children that are at risk for developing life-threatening anaphylaxis at school.
The study, to be presented at the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) National Conference & Exhibition in Washington DC this week, looked at schools that participated in the EPIPENS4SCHOOLS program during the 2013-14 school year. The program, sponsored by Mylan Specialty, provides stock epinephrine auto-injectors to 59,000 public and private, elementary, middle and high schools across the United States for use during anaphylactic emergencies.
Among the 6,019 schools responding to the survey, 919 anaphylactic events were reported with 22% of the cases occurring in individuals with no prior history of allergy. These children would not have had access to their own prescribed auto-injector.
“There’s always a first time for a reaction—it can be at home, it can be in school, it can be in a restaurant, it can be on the soccer field,” said lead author Martha V. White, MD, research director at the Institute for Asthma & Allergy in Montgomery County, Maryland. “But the bottom line is that many students experiencing anaphylaxis in school had no prior known allergies and would not have had medication there or at home,” she said.
The study illustrates the urgent need for stock epinephrine to be made available in all places of public accommodation including schools, restaurants, malls, parks and theaters.
The study also illustrates that anaphylaxis can strike anyone, even those not considered at risk for severe allergic reactions. We suggest sharing these findings with fellow parents, school administrators, teachers, friends, and family who may not consider anaphylaxis to be a problem outside of the community of children that have been diagnosed with a severe allergy.