Tuesday, October 19, 2010

State House Passes Bill to Protect Students With Allergies

Parents of children with food allergies can begin to feel a peace of mind as a bill that would force school districts to create a policy allowing children to carry epinephrine medication awaits the governor's signature. Passing the bill on a bipartisan vote of 180-19, the House was persuaded by the dangers of an allergic reaction without medication.

Bill sponsor Matthew Smith, a Democrat from Allegheny County, says it’s essential for children to be able to self-medicate themselves after an allergic reaction.

“It can strike a child at any moment and it’s imperative that they have these EpiPens on their person at the time they suffer from the food allergy attack. It will help prevent them from going into anaphylactic shock.”

If a child has an allergic reaction to something they ate, often nut-based, the child has only a few seconds to medicate themselves. Students are currently prohibited from carrying epinephrine medication such as EpiPen injectors in school and this legislation would allow those medications to be carried on the person at all times.

Smith says the bill is as much about ensuring peace of mind for parents as it is about the protection of students.

”It gives the parents the peace of mind that if their son or daughter has a food allergy they’ll have the EpiPen on their person at school to administer the medication that literally needs to be administered in a matter of seconds,” Smith says.

Concerns about the maturity of students carrying the medication and their knowledge of how to use it were considered in the legislation and the bill includes safeguards to ensure that the child knows how to use it along with physician and parental consent.

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