Food allergies don’t have to create back-to-school stress |

Food allergies don’t have to create back-to-school stress

Craig Press staff report
Sending a child with food allergies to school can be incredibly stressful for parents, but experts at National Jewish Health say making a written plan and communicating with school staff can help reduce the risk of exposure and keep children safe in the classroom.
National Jewish Health/courtesy

For parents of children with food allergies, back-to-school can be particularly stressful. When children are away at school, parents have little control over the foods their children may encounter.

“More children than ever have food allergies, and in severe cases, just being around certain foods can create an extremely dangerous situation,” said BJ Lanser, MD, director of the Pediatric Food Program at National Jewish Health.

The following tips from experts at National Jewish Health can help ease parents’ anxiety and ensure students with food allergies remain safe at school.

• Meet with school staff members: Set up meetings with principals, teachers, nurses, and cafeteria staff before the school year begins. This ensures everyone is informed and prepared and allows parents to understand how their child’s school manages food allergies.

• Create a written plan: Work with an allergist to develop an action plan that outlines all necessary information on your child’s allergy, including how to prevent accidental exposures and how to recognize and treat symptoms of an allergic reaction.

• Post pictures: Tape pictures of your child to the classroom wall with information on his or her allergies to alert anyone who comes into the room. You can also post one on your child’s desk, which can serve as a secondary reminder when snacks are served.

• Prepare safe snacks: Pack allergen-free snacks for your child in case someone brings in a treat for the class. Send the snacks to school with a label specifying they are safe, or leave some with the teacher, so your child won’t feel left out during classroom celebrations.

“… There are preparations parents can make to reduce the risks to their child, and with plenty of communication and collaboration with school personnel, students can concentrate on learning rather than their allergies,” Lanser said.