As a pediatrician at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio, Dr. Sarah Denny has seen her share of the life-threatening reactions that can happen with food allergies.
That didn’t make it any less scary when her son Liam, then 18 months old, drank soy milk and was soon covered in hives and having trouble breathing. Moments later, he was unconscious.
She called 911 while her husband jabbed their son in the thigh with an epinephrine pen. “I could hear sirens on the way to us,” Denny recalled. “I’m holding Liam out on the curb, and my medical brain kicked in. I thought, ‘I need to be doing chest compressions.’ ”
She didn’t have to — the epinephrine quickly took effect. On the way to the hospital, her son woke up. Fifteen minutes later he was smiling and talking again.
“Epinephrine works very quickly. As long as you give it soon enough, it can reverse a [severe] reaction,” Denny said. “It’s truly lifesaving. Had we waited to give it or just called 911, I’m not sure he would have survived.”
To help ensure children like Liam can get epinephrine when it’s needed, new federal legislation encourages schools to have epinephrine for any child who needs it. Signed into law by President Barack Obama last November, the School Access to Emergency Epinephrine Act gives states a financial incentive for passing legislation requiring that schools have epinephrine on hand and personnel trained in how to use it. Obama’s daughter Malia has a peanut allergy.
“Epinephrine needs to be given right away, within five minutes of the onset of symptoms,” said Dr. David Stukus, an allergist and immunologist at Nationwide Children’s Hospital. “If you wait longer, the risk for death increases.”
…But about one in four first-time food-allergy reactions happens at school, and the parents might not even realize their child is allergic. Denny kept an EpiPen at home because she knew Liam was allergic to dairy, eggs, peanuts and tree nuts. But he had eaten soy before with no issues.
…Currently, 26 states permit schools to stock epinephrine for use in any child who needs it. Only five states — Maryland, Michigan, Nebraska, Nevada and Virginia — require schools to stock epinephrine, according to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America.
That leaves 19 states that have no such legislation.
The federal legislation gives states that require schools to stock epinephrine preference for receiving asthma education grants. Also, state and federal legislation empowers school personnel to take action to save a life.
“We would like to see state legislatures require [schools to stock epinephrine],” said John Lehr, CEO of Food Allergy Research & Education. “We understand that each state and locality needs to make its own budgeting decisions, but we believe that having stock epinephrine in the schools will save lives.”
“All of the [epinephrine pens] are easy to learn to use and safe, even if accidentally given to someone without a food allergy or [someone who is] not having a food-allergy reaction,” Stukus said. “It’s adrenaline, which we all have in our bodies.”
To read more, please click on this link Stocking Epinephrine in Schools Might Save Lives.
Please call your school to make sure epipen is stocked.