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.
By now you may have read of yet another food allergy-related tragedy, the passing of Simon Katz, a 16-year old student of Chatfield High School in Littleton, Colorado. He was rushed to the hospital on Monday after inadvertently taking a bite of a s’more made with peanut butter at a school homecoming celebration after suffering anaphylactic symptoms. He was pronounced dead at the hospital despite multiple shots of epinephrine and CPR administered by his father on the way.
This was the second report of a teen death due to anaphylaxis in a week, yet another horrific nightmare to befall a member of the allergic community. Our heartfelt and deepest sympathies are with the Katz family.
As we generally do when anaphylaxis-related tragedies appear in the news, we seek out the only good that can come from such reports, namely learning from the experience to prevent such occurrences in the future. Here are a number of extenuating circumstances that were reported in the media:
- Simon did not have his epinephrine auto-injectors on-hand
He had a habit of keeping his auto-injectors in his car, but he caught a ride to school that day with his friends. By the time his friends were able to transport him home, he was vomiting and suffering severe symptoms.
Early administration of epinephrine is paramount to the successful treatment of anaphylaxis and it should be administered as soon as symptoms present themselves, or immediately after inadvertently ingesting an allergen that has caused anaphylaxis in the past as directed by your physician. On the best day, Simon’s epinephrine was waiting in the parking lot and administration would have been delayed; on this, the worst day, his epinephrine was not available, possibly costing him his life.
- He was taken home instead of straight to the emergency department of the closest hospital
Simon was in the throes of a severe anaphylactic response to a known allergen, a medical emergency by any definition. While we sympathize with his friends who thought they were doing the right thing, they should have been educated to seek immediate medical attention for him.
- He consumed an unwrapped food that did not come from home
Simon’s father, David Katz, told reporters that s’mores were one of Simon’s favorite treats, but he mistakenly ate one that was made with Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups. It is presumed the peanut butter was the trigger of his allergic response.
Global News has provided additional details regarding the Andrea Mariano tragedy. The teen, who was enjoying her second day of campus life as a psychology student at Queen’s University in Ontario Friday, perished as a result of an anaphylactic reaction.
Ms Mariano, who was allergic to both dairy and peanuts, consumed a smoothie that was cross-contaminated with one of her allergens. It is unclear whether the smoothie came from a campus outlet or the university dining hall, and which allergen was the cause.
Sunbutter, manufacturer of the leading peanut-butter alternative and a long-time member of the SnackSafely.com Manufacturer Partnership, has published a free recipe book designed specifically for school food services.
The resource, entitled School Safe Foodservice Recipes, provides 17 peanut and tree nut free recipes schools can use to help implement nut-free school policies.
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Please note that we have removed a product from the Safe Snack Guide due to a change in labeling, manufacture, or disclosure:
- ShopRite Red White Blue Pops 12 Pack
We have confirmed with a representative of the Wakefern Food Corporation, the manufacturer of many ShopRite brand products, that this item is currently manufactured in a line that also processes tree nuts.
Also note that we incorrectly identified Vermont Nut Free Fudge with the advisory [EGG processed in Facility] when in fact it should have been identified with the advisory [Contains EGG]. This has now been corrected and we apologize for the error.
On Monday, the Maine legislature voted to override a veto of bill HP0776 by Republican Governor Paul LePage. The new law, entitled “An Act To Expand Public Access to Epinephrine Autoinjectors”, allows for stock epinephrine to be made available in places of public accommodation beyond schools, such as restaurants, shopping malls, etc.
Yesterday, Ohio State Rep Dr Terry Johnson published an opinion piece in the Highland County Press stating that the voluntary school stock epinephrine legislation he sponsored has already saved the lives of two children in the same Akron area school district. Both children, one allergic to peanuts, the other to pineapple, were administered epinephrine by a trained staff member when it became apparent they were suffering anaphylactic reactions.
In the same article, Johnson announced that Rep Christina Hagan has introduced a bill in the Ohio House to expand access to stock epinephrine to additional places of public accommodation beyond schools.
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“An Act relating to the maintenance and administration of epinephrine in schools and certain other facilities” was signed into into law by Iowa Governor Terry Branstad on Friday.
Senate File 462 provides for:
- Licensed healthcare professionals to prescribe epinephrine auto-injectors in the name of an accredited school or district;
- Schools to obtain stock epinephrine for administration by trained personnel;
- “Good Samaritan” provisions to indemnify such personnel from liability when administering epinephrine in good faith;
- Students to self carry and self administer epinephrine when necessary.
Unfortunately, the new law does not mandate schools obtain stock epinephrine and provides no funding for them to do so.
- Nana Creme – Nana Creme is a Vegan, non-GMO, and Allergen-Friendly Non-Dairy Frozen Dessert (“ice cream”), free of Gluten, Dairy, Nuts, Tree Nuts, Soy, and Eggs and made with REAL ingredients.
- JTM Foods – Founded in 1986, JTM Foods is the largest producer of snack pies in North America, selling over 100 million pies each year. Sold under the JJ’s Bakery brand name, their pies use fresh dough and real fruit fillings made from scratch every day in their Erie PA bakery.
Congratulations to the people of New Jersey with the signing of A304/S801 – NJ’s stock epinephrine bill – into law by Governor Chris Christie.
Epinephrine is the only drug used to treat anaphylaxis, a life threatening allergic reaction. “Stock” refers to epinephrine that is not specifically prescribed to an individual but can be used on anyone that is displaying symptoms of anaphylaxis.
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