Keeping the Child with Food Allergies Safe at School

Monday, 9 November 2015: 10:40 AM

Scarlet R. Spain, DNP, CNS, FNP-BC
Valparaiso University, Valparaiso, IN, USA

Rates of children suffering from food allergies have increased dramatically in prevalence in the past decades. It has been documented that the overall prevalence of pediatric food allergies has increased 18% from 1997 to 2007 (CDC). Children having accidental exposures to allergens in the school setting are not uncommon. Literature demonstrates that many school staff has very little knowledge regarding the commonality and prevalence of food allergies and may lack awareness of the signs and symptoms of reaction related to food allergy. Research also shows that there may not be properly trained staff to treat a child experiencing a reaction related to food allergy. This concern becomes increasingly difficult in schools where a licensed nurse is not employed full time.

This lecture examines the initiation of a doctoral level best practice project for keeping the child with food allergies safe at school. A systematic review of the literature was conducted to identify the best evidence regarding keeping the food allergic child safe at school. After inclusion and exclusion criteria were applied, there were a total of 16 articles for review.  An intensive analysis and synthesis of the literature was performed which culminated into best practice research on the topic.  A food allergy management policy was implemented in the school that encompassed the literature findings. Best practice recommendations identified, include careful monitoring to achieve complete avoidance and the initiation of an emergency care plan. Also, emergency medications must always be available for the student. Education of staff regarding best practice for management of food allergies is of extreme importance. This lecture examines these key components and also reviews the initiation and findings of a best practice doctoral project in a local school that utilized the practice recommendations as designed by the project coordinator. At the end of this lecture, the attendee should be able to identify the key components related to school safety for the food allergic child.