Parents of children with allergies should prepare for school year now

WASHINGTON — It seems like summer vacation just began. But for kids with allergies or asthma, back-to-school season is already here.

Dr. Rachel Schreiber, an allergist in Rockville, Maryland, says it’s not too early to prepare for going back to classes. She says that for kids with severe allergies — especially to specific foods — medical forms must be signed, including those that authorize the school to administer an emergency injection of epinephrine in the event of a life-threatening attack.

“The doctors need time to see the children; the teachers need time to see the parents. So it really is a wonderful time now to get started in preparing for the new school year,” she said.

Dr. Schreiber says it’s a good idea to visit your kid’s school, meet the teachers and maybe check out the cafeteria and health center, especially if the child will be attending it for the first time.

It’s important to ask questions about what is served in the lunchroom, and what precautions and protocols are in place for children with allergies. And while there are likely district-wide rules concerning food allergies, there might be slight variations at various schools.

“In Montgomery County, as an example, they do not serve peanut products in the cafeteria — however, each school has its own policies as to what you can bring into the classroom,” Dr. Schreiber said.

College-bound students should also do a preliminary check before arriving on campus, so that they are familiar with dining hall policies, the location of medical help and whether they can have a refrigerator in their dorm room for allergy-free foods.

Dr. Schreiber says it is also a good idea to make sure college kids with severe allergies and/or asthma are housed in an air-conditioned dormitory to prevent reactions to pollen.

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