Handling food allergies amid pandemic

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WILKES-BARRE, LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) – Food allergies affect 1 in 13 children. That’s about two students per classroom.

As Outreach and Education Coordinator for the Allergy & Asthma Network, Allie Bahn is no stranger to food allergies.

Bahn says schools welcoming back students during the ongoing pandemic must have an effective plan in place, which starts with parents keeping schools informed.

“Making sure that they communicate and share, you know, about their student’s food allergies, what needs to be done in case there is an emergency, checking to make sure that they have updated epinephrine autoinjectors,” said Bahn.

Disruptions in the food supply chain during the pandemic have resulted in the FDA making temporary food label changes.

“As a parent of two girls with food allergies and a patient myself, we really rely on the labels,” said Vivian Hernandez-Trujillo, MD, pediatric allergist.

Dr. Hernandez-Trujillo says the pandemic heightens what’s already a serious concern for families dealing with food allergies.

“I think being in control and having our action plan, our emergency plan in place and having our available treatment which is epinephrine auto-injector AUVI-Q available at all times is the most important thing,” said Dr. Hernandez-Trujillo.

It is also important to medically evaluate children with food allergies before school begins. Many pediatric appointments were postponed or not scheduled during the pandemic.

“So, I want to reassure everyone that the American Academy of Pediatrics really has provided guidance for pediatricians and pediatric sub-specialists. Many of us are using telemedicine and TeleHealth separating sick visits from well visits,” said Dr. Hernandez-Trujillo.

The Centers for Disease Control is also recommending that teachers have students bring their own food to school and eat in their classrooms while socially distanced at their desks.

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