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February 10, 2006

Can't join em? Start your own school

I read this article and thought, "We'll I guess if you can't join 'em, start your own."

A recent Harvard study is showing the majority of child food allergy reactions occur during school hours. So what are schools doing to make it more safe?

Some experts believe schools need to be much more prepared for allergy incidents. In fact the problem is so bad some parents have taken matters into their own hands. If you cant get the school to work with you, should you start your OWN school? In the case of 3 year old Ben Andres, who sufferers from multiple food allergies, that's what his parents did.

"Ben is allergic to wheat, egg whites and peanuts. We have to make sure that he does not get exposed to those at any time," said Craig. At home the Andrews can control what Ben eats and keep him safe. But outside all bets are off. "Anything could happen," said Christie. "He could accidentally eat a piece of bread or a peanut and have a serious allergic reaction."

So, his parents created a safe school for Ben.

"We do not allow any outside food sources into the building," said Laura Shulte. Shulte designed the St. Stephen Early Childhood program in south St. Louis as a safe haven for allergic children because of her own son's experience.

At St. Stephen, no foods known to trigger allergic reactions are allowed. All the common food allergens are banned and diligent hand washing is required. Some schools tend to work with parents and train the school nurse and teachers on emergency procedures. Another classic strategy for safety is creation of "peanut free" tables because of how common and serious most peanut allergies are.

Although the new food labeling law, that requires that common allergens be clearly identified, should make it easier for parents of children with food allergies, education is still the key.

Posted by David at February 10, 2006 7:07 AM