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With Food Allergies on the Rise, AANMA Applauds Illinois’ Move to Save Lives
State’s new law allows schools to keep and use auto-injectable epinephrine for students who suffer severe allergic reactions
WASHINGTON, DC, AUG. 16, 2011 — Illinois took a definitive step forward yesterday in helping protect students as Gov. Pat Quinn signed into law the School Access to Emergency Epinephrine Act, which lets schools stock and use life-saving epinephrine for students who experience severe allergic reactions. Allergy & Asthma Network Mothers of Asthmatics (AANMA), a nonprofit organization dedicated to ending needless suffering and death from allergies and asthma, praised the enactment of this groundbreaking new law.
“This law will save lives,” said AANMA President and Founder Nancy Sander. “We hope this move by Illinois will prompt other states to follow suit and also encourage the last three holdout states — New York, Rhode Island and Wisconsin — to enact laws protecting students’ rights to carry and use their prescribed anaphylaxis medications.”
Anaphylaxis is a life-threatening, whole body allergic reaction typically caused by food allergens, drugs or insect venom. “Epinephrine is the only drug that will reverse an anaphylactic episode,” said allergist Phil Lieberman, MD, former chairman of the American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology Drugs and Anaphylaxis Committee. People with both food allergy and asthma are at increased risk of anaphylaxis.
A study published in the July issue of Pediatrics finds one out of 13 children in the U.S. has food allergies — nearly twice as many as earlier studies suggest — and as Gov. Quinn’s office noted in a statement about the new law’s enactment, one-quarter of first-time reactions among children to common allergens peanuts or tree nuts occur in a school setting.
Every minute counts when anaphylaxis or asthma strike, and access to needed medications can make the difference between life and death. With support from families, school nurses, educators and legislators, AANMA led the campaign to enact laws in every state protecting students’ rights to carry and self-administer their life-saving asthma and anaphylaxis medications. AANMA is now spearheading the effort to raise awareness about these laws, ensuring families, students and educators put them into practice. Learn more at www.BreatheAtSchool.org.
Allergy & Asthma Network Mothers of Asthmatics (AANMA) is the leading national nonprofit organization dedicated to ending needless death and suffering due to asthma, allergies and related conditions. AANMA specializes in sharing family-friendly, medically accurate information through its award-winning publications Allergy & Asthma Today magazine and The MA Report newsletter, its website at www.aanma.org and numerous community outreach programs. You can also follow AANMA on Facebook at www.facebook.com/AANMA and Twitter at www.twitter.com/AANMA.