The Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA) is encouraging the North Carolina General Assembly to pass House Bill 824.
Introduced by Reps. Glazier, Murry, Holloway, and Fulghum, the bill would require public schools to maintain a supply of epinephrine auto-injectors, allow them to be used in emergencies and address liability concerns for those who use this medication in good-faith.
AAFA, however, is fearful that one section of the bill would restrict use of epinephrine devices on pupils whose allergic conditions are known and is urging lawmakers to strike that section.
“No one can predict how severe a food allergic reaction will be,” said Charlotte Collins, vice president for policy and programs at AAFA. “It is essential for schools to prepare by stocking epinephrine, the life-saving medication for food allergy emergencies.”
Food allergy prevalence is rising, especially in young children, according to AAFA. Six million children have been diagnosed with a food allergy to nuts, eggs, milk, wheat, soy or any of the other common food items that can trigger life-threatening anaphylaxis, the most severe type of allergic reaction.
Approximately 20-25 percent of epinephrine injections in schools involve children whose allergy was unknown at the time of the reaction.
“If a school does not have an epinephrine auto-injector on-site that staff can access at any time, a child may die waiting,” Collins said.
In 2012, a Virginia first grader went into anaphylactic shock after a friend offered her a peanut at recess. She was rushed to the school nurse and 911 was called. By the time the ambulance arrived, she had gone into cardiac arrest. She died a short time later at a nearby hospital. Her tragic passing instilled a sense of urgency in Virginia to protect school children and Virginia passed a law requiring schools to maintain a supply of epinephrine auto-injectors. Maryland and Illinois have enacted similar laws.