Students with Asthma in Connecticut and Louisiana Can Now Breathe Easier
New state legislation allows students to carry asthma and anaphylaxis medications in school
WASHINGTON, D.C., June 30, 2009—Connecticut and Louisiana have become the 48th and 49th states to pass legislation allowing students to carry and self-administer life-saving asthma medications in school starting this coming school year. The two bills have been sent to the states’ governors and are awaiting their signatures.
The news was the latest legislative triumph for Allergy & Asthma Network Mothers of Asthmatics (AANMA) and other advocates. For more than 10 years, AANMA, a nonprofit organization dedicated to eliminating death and suffering from asthma, allergy and related disorders, has urged states across the country to enact legislation that protects students living with asthma and anaphylaxis, including the federal Asthmatic Schoolchildren’s Treatment and Health Management Act of 2004.
South Dakota is the only state remaining without a law that allows students to bring and use their asthma medications in school; five states have yet to add anaphylaxis medications to their present laws regarding asthma medications (Mississippi, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and Wisconsin). Anaphylaxis is a life-threatening allergic reaction sometimes set off by insect sting, latex or some food allergies.
“Students with asthma and allergies are taught to use their medications at the first sign of symptoms,” said Sandra Fusco-Walker, AANMA’s Director of Advocacy. “Often there isn’t time to retrieve medications from the clinic or locker. Any delay in treatment could have life-threatening consequences. That’s why laws like these are so essential to student safety.”
Prem Menon, MD, an allergist in Baton Rouge, La., and a member of AANMA’s Board of Directors, led the effort in Louisiana along with AANMA members. The bill passed unanimously due to their hard work and the support from advocates they rallied throughout the state.
“This bill was necessary,” Dr. Menon said. “Students were having a hard time with some of the teachers and school nurses. Because there was no state law, some nurses worried that the State Board of Nursing would discipline them if children carried auto-injectable epinephrine and albuterol.”
AANMA member Pam Minicucci has two children with asthma and allergies and provided testimony for the Connecticut bill. “Families who have to deal with asthma and food allergies don’t expect the world to change for us, but we do expect the world and our school systems to allow our children to keep themselves safe,” she said.
Other recent legislative triumphs for students with asthma and allergies:
- Pennsylvania removed an age restriction in pending legislation that only allowed students 10 and older to carry anaphylaxis medications.
- Georgia passed a law making it legal for students to carry and self-administer their anaphylaxis medications during the school day.
- For more information about state laws affecting students with asthma, go to: www.aanma.org/advocacy/meds-at-school.
Founded in 1985, Allergy & Asthma Network Mothers of Asthmatics is the leading national nonprofit family organization dedicated to eliminating suffering and death due to asthma, allergies and related conditions. AANMA’s core areas of expertise are education, advocacy and outreach. The organization’s www.aanma.org website and award-winning publications, Allergy & Asthma Today magazine and The MA Report newsletter, are consumer lifelines to medical news and healthy living. For more information, call 800.878.4403.
Contact: Marcela Gieminiani. (703) 641-9595 ext. 109