Keeping kids with food allergies safe at school

CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - 8-year-old Daniel Nirenblatt remembers the day very well.

He came into contact with food that contained one of several things he's allergic to while at school. Since that scary day mom Cynthia does not take any chances.

"We have nothing with nut products in it," Cynthia Nirenblatt said.

Allergist Dr. Jeffrey Dietrich says food allergies like Daniel's are on the rise as 8-percent of children have them. Each year about 150 people, mostly children and young adults, die from them.

"A parent needs to make sure everyone is aware that their child has a food allergy," Dr. Dietrich said.

Especially everyone at your child's school, which includes their teacher, administrators and school nurse.

"There are still some misunderstandings with food allergies, so the more we can educate the schools and the public, the better", Dr. Dietrich said.

An allergic reaction can range from a rash, hives, swelling, vomiting, as well as trouble breathing which is a sign the body is having a severe reaction.

Anaphylaxis can lead to death if epinephrine, also known as an EpiPen, is not used.

"Typically with a true food allergy you are going to have symptoms within minutes or within hours of eating that food," Dr. Dietrich said.

Students with food allergies should have a food emergency action plan in place. An action plan should include the child's name, food they are allergic to, two EpiPens, and a list of symptoms to look for.

Nirenblatt says it's these extra precautions that give her more peace of mind.

"All it takes is that one thing he eats that could take him away," Nirenblatt said.

Dr. Dietrich says the most common food items kids are allergic to are: milk, eggs, peanuts, wheat, soy, fish, shellfish, and tree nuts.

The only way to know if your child is indeed allergic is by going to an allergist and being tested.

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