As a parent of a child with potentially life-threatening food allergies, I live with the fear of my son having an anaphylactic reaction on the school bus or in the classroom. Although he carries epinephrine, knowing how quickly a reaction can turn fatal still worries me daily.
It is estimated that 20-25% of epinephrine administrations in schools occur in children with no prior history of life-threatening allergies, whether to a food, bee sting, latex or something else. When a child has no history of allergies, a first time reaction could be devastating since that child would likely be without life-saving epinephrine on hand.
Time is vital during an anaphylactic allergic reaction. It only takes a minute or two for a reaction to become anaphylactic. When administered immediately, epinephrine sends adrenaline to the body which signals it to slow down the reaction. When a reaction is slowed, the individual often has enough time to get emergency medical attention. Sadly, there have been way too many stories of children who died from anaphylactic shock because they did not receive epinephrine quickly enough.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control reports that food allergies result in more than 300,000 ambulatory-care visits a year among children under the age of 18 – and that does not account for reactions to non-food allergens such as bee stings, latex and antiobiotics.
On May 14, 2013, Pennsylvania Senator Matt Smith of Pennsylvania introduced Senate Bill 898 into legislation. The bill would require schools to maintain a supply of epinephrine to be used to treat an anaphylactic reaction. Senator Smith also introduced two related bills, SB 896 and SB 897 that will provide guidelines and allow public facilities and restaurants to obtain and administer epinephrine in an emergency situation.
If passed, these bills will save lives. The availability of epinephrine is critical, particularly to those who may have no known history of allergy and therefore would not have this life-saving medicine in an emergency.
Let’s help Pennsylvania join Virginia and Maryland which have already passed laws requiring schools to keep a supply of epinephrine on hand. These states require schools to have a supply while other states, such as Kentucky, have passed bills that highly encourage schools to stock the medication. So far about 30 states have either passed, introduced or will soon introduce some type of legislation for schools to stock undesignated epinephrine.
If you are a parent living in the state of Pennsylvania, please encourage your representatives to support Senate Bill 898, as well as 896 and 897. These bills will save lives, perhaps even the life of your child. Simply call, email or visit your representatives to let them know that you support these bills and you hope that he or she will do the same. To find your local Representatives just click here and enter your zip code.
It only takes a few minutes of your time. Please help Pennsylvania save lives.