On Tuesday, the House passed a bill that was aimed at allowing schools to be better prepare for allergies that can be severe and sometimes fatal. Peanuts and other foods can cause these allergic reactions, but if schools were allowed to carry the proper medications, it could potentially save lives.
If passed, this would be a way for states to make epinephrine, which is used for the treatment of anaphylactic shock, available in their schools. The bill would also encourage that schools allow administrators that are trained to give epinephrine to students that they believe are suffering from anaphylactic allergic reaction. The bill would also require that states take a new look at their laws regarding liability so that administers are adequately legally protected when they help their students.
The bill was sponsored by Rep. Phil Roe, a doctor and Tennessee Republican, as well as Rep. Steny Hoyer of Maryland, who is the second-ranked Democrat in the House. It was passed by voice vote.
According to Hoyer, his granddaughter has a severe allergy to peanuts, and EpiPens in schools can save lives.
Allergies to food are a much more serious health concern that many realize. According to recent data, an estimated 5.1 percent of children that are between the ages of 0 and 17 suffered from food allergies between 2009 and 2011, which is up from 3.4 percent of kids between 1997 and 1999.
A food allergy can cause an allergic reaction ranging from mild to severe and can often include potentially fatal anaphylaxis. In one study that examined emergency room visits and admissions between 2001 and 2006, researchers noticed a significant rise in both, showing that anaphylaxis caused from foods is a serious issue.
There is the potential of death from anaphylaxis, and an estimated 500 to 1000 fatalities are reported in the US yearly from allergic reactions. As many as 30 percent of fatal food allergy cases are caused from food allergies, and most often an allergy to nuts is the cause, but any food can cause an allergy.
According to Roe, about 6 million children have food allergies, and many do not know that they have an allergy at all.
Anaphylactic shock can kill a child in minutes, which is why this new bill could save the lives of many children in schools.
For now, the new bill will have to go to the Senate to be considered.