Managing food allergies at school

More than four million U.S. children have food allergies, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Parents of children with food allergies have an extra-long to-do list when it’s time to go back to school.

It’s important that a school is properly prepared to keep a child with food allergies safe, because an allergic reaction may be life threatening.

Sandra Hong, M.D., an allergist at Cleveland Clinic, advises parents to get a head start on necessary medical forms related to their child’s food allergy.

“You want to touch base with your primary care physician or your allergist because you want to have all of your paper work turned in, as the school will need all of your emergency action items to be there for you,” she said.

Dr. Hong suggests parents talk with the school nurse about their child’s food allergy to ensure they know the signs of an allergic reaction.

She said it’s also important to know where a child’s rescue medication will be kept – either in the nurse’s office, or with the child.

She also recommends alerting a child’s teacher to a food allergy and asking them not to use food as a reward in the classroom.

It’s a good idea to notify the bus driver and cafeteria workers about food allergies.

If a child plans to buy their lunch, schools can often provide a list of ingredients for the different foods offered, so parents can review it for potential allergens.

And believe it or not, Dr. Hong said that parents should talk to the art teacher as well.

“Sometimes, in some of the paints and some of the glues, there could be egg, or there could be milk products, so, you want to be aware of that,” said Dr. Hong.

She adds that it’s important for children with food allergies to understand that they should not share food with classmates.