Allergy Foundation Warns Parents and Teachers to be Aware of Food Allergies this Season
Contact: Angel Waldron at 202-466-7643, x248
WASHINTGON, September 1, 2005 -- Back-to-school season can be a relief for parents after a long summer. But for parents of children with food allergies, a return to classrooms and cafeterias can bring anxiety and fear, for a good reason: food allergy reactions cause more than 200 deaths and 30,000 visits to emergency rooms each year.
The Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA) estimates that more than 11 million Americans have some food allergy. “Food Fight” is the cover story in the current issue of FreshAAIR, AAFA’s national newsletter, with tips for preventing allergic reactions at school. Get additional information about food allergies at www.MyFoodAllergies.net.
Food allergy is a disease of the immune system that makes the body fight harmless food proteins as if they were dangerous viruses or bacteria. This “over-reaction” of the immune system leads to symptoms ranging from sneezing, skin rashes or digestive problems, to a life-threatening multi-organ reaction called “anaphylaxis.”
Jane Lawson of Phoenix knows the frustration that families and school officials feel this time of year. Her son Louis was diagnosed with food allergies in kindergarten, but only after suffering a severe reaction at school with no nurse on site. He shared a classmate’s peanut butter sandwich. “They called me at the office and sounded scared to death,” Lawson says, “which made it even worse for Louis and me.” Fortunately, emergency medical personnel arrived fast enough to stop the allergic reaction with medication. “Now we know, teachers know and friends know, and we have an allergy plan on file in the nurses offices,” says Lawson, “but I’m still a little nervous every year.”
Adding to back-to-school concerns is that food allergies are more prevalent among children. An estimated 8% of children have a food allergy compared to 2% of adults. Also, 90% of all food allergy reactions are caused by 8 common foods: milk, eggs, wheat, peanuts, tree nuts, fish, shellfish and soy.
There is no cure for food allergies. Preparation, education and allergen avoidance are the best ways to prevent life-threatening reactions. Parents can learn more by getting a copy of FreshAAIR newsletter and additional information about food allergies at www.MyFoodAllergies.net.