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School Policies on Food Allergies and the New Peanut Skin Patch

In the United States, more than 50 million people have food allergies and annually it costs the country approximately $18 billion. Nut allergies, mainly peanut allergies, have been at the forefront of children’s health issues for decades, due to the extreme sensitivity that children have to these allergies. It is estimated that between 6 and 8% of children under the age of four have some form of food allergy. Though there are varying reactions that a child may have to a peanut, sometimes the reactions are so extreme that they could lead to anaphylaxis or even death. The seriousness of the reactions have many parents worried for the safety of their allergy-prone children in places where the parent cannot control the environment, such as at school.

Food Allergies and School Politics

Over the last 10 years, scientists and researchers have learned a lot about the development of allergies in children and an effective way to remove the danger in common spaces like schools. School policies have gone into effect that would protect students who have serious reactions even to the slightest contact to the allergen. However, there are issues regarding how to balance one child’s allergy with the freedom of families within the school wanting to consume peanuts or peanut-derivatives. For example, for many families, peanut butter may be the most affordable and easiest lunch food option to make sure a child is receiving enough protein, along with other key nutrients.

Not only is it difficult to control the actions of others in a school environment for the sake of one child’s allergy, the development of food allergy policies for schools is limited at best, with training of teachers and administrators for the tell-tale signs of a food allergy leading to possible liability issues on behalf of the school.

Maryland’s Policy on Food Allergies in Schools

Maryland, according to a study conducted by the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, met 17 of the 23 policy standards, establishing Mit as one of the states most concerned about implementing food allergy policies in schools. Additionally, Maryland passed a Senate Bill back in 2012 that provided public schools within a certain jurisdiction the ability to administer auto-injectable epinephrine to any student suffering from anaphylaxis regardless of whether it has been established by a medical professional that the student is having an allergic reaction that is causing anaphylaxis or the student has a prescription for the epinephrine. This has the potential to save lives, but may also open up the school to liability for issues that can arise resulting from injecting epinephrine into a child who is misdiagnosed.

The Peanut Skin Patch: A Possible Alternative?

With all of the changes happening in the school environment, scientists and researchers are looking for ways to make more young children who have serious allergies to peanuts safer. According to a study put out in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, a skin patch has been invented that may help sufferers to build up a tolerance to nuts. The skin patch does this by releasing peanut proteins into the skin of the wearer, raising the peanut threshold and tolerance cellularly. The skin patch was shown to be most effective for children between the ages of 4 to 11, but less effective in older patients. However, the skin patch is not 100% effective and there is still the danger that the patch can cause mild to serious reactions depending on the person. Roughly 80% of the children who wore in the patch in the clinical study had some reaction, such as a rash, to the area of skin where the patch adhered.

Charles County, MD Personal Injury Lawyers that Fight for You

If your child was injured as a result of negligent exposure to peanuts or any other food allergy at school, it is important to consult with an experienced Waldorf personal injury attorney. Please call the Law Office of Robert R. Castro at (301) 804-2312 for a confidential consultation.