Monday, August 6, 2007
Medical Reports: Allergy Alert
For kids with food allergies, what they eat is often a life or death decision. With back to school time here, doctors are warning about the importance of educating teachers and school workers about how to prevent and treat a deadly reaction. Seven's Richard Lemus has this Allergy Alert.
WSVN -- It can happen in a second. A child eats or even touches the wrong food, setting off a severe allergic reaction.
Yolanda Planas: "When I got there and saw her gasping for air, I was in tears. I thought, 'oh, my God, my baby is going to die.'"
Yolanda Planas knows that horror. Her daughter Jackie, who's allergic to several foods, has had two near-death experiences at daycare, despite the fact that Yolanda had given workers life-saving medication to administer to her daughter.
Yolanda Planas: "They didn't administer the EpiPen immediately, they waited for me to arrive and give her the EpiPen. It could have been fatal."
With kids heading back to school soon, doctors say it's up to parents to teach the teachers. That begins with a list of the foods your child can't eat.
Dr. Neil Gershman of Asthma & Allergy Associates of Florida: "At the school, the teacher, the administrator, the cafeteria workers, all these people have to know that this child has a potential fatal food allergy."
Doctors also suggest constant hand-washing and even hand sanitizers for school workers since even a touch by someone else who's been in contact with foods can trigger an attack.
Yolanda Planas: "If someone eats something that she's allergic to, and they touch her without washing their hands, she can have an allergic reaction."
Also, teach your child to eat what you've packed and never to share or trade food with others.
Dr. Gershman: "They should know never to eat anything that they haven't prepared or their parents haven't prepared themselves."
And parents need to make sure the child is prepared for accidents. Every child should have two EpiPens near them at all times in case of an attack because often times it takes two injections to treat the allergy, and teachers should know when and how to use the injections.
Dr. Gershman: "The teachers should be informed of when it's appropriate to use EpiPens because what saves a life is the immediate use of adrenaline."
Yolanda Planas: "I always make sure the EpiPen is there, and I call every once in a while to check on the expiration date to make sure it's still good."
Yolanda's biggest wish is that Jackie will outgrow her allergies. But, until then, she'll work to make sure that the wrong things don't get in her little hands.
Richard Lemus: "Doctors also suggest that your child wear a medical alert bracelet or necklace with the allergic condition inscribed on it."
FOR MORE INFORMATION:
Dr. Neil Gershman
2021 E. Commercial Blvd. Suite 302
Fort Lauderdale, FL 33308