(Cleveland) On Tuesday, U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) will announce the passage of a new Federal law that will protect American children with severe allergic reactions. President Obama signed into law last week the School Access to Emergency Epinephrine Act, bipartisan legislation that gives priority federal funding to states that require schools to maintain a supply of epinephrine without a prescription for any student that may experience life-threatening anaphylactic shock.
Current Ohio law only allows schools to keep an EpiPen for students with a known allergy and a prescription written specifically for them. But a quarter of severe allergic reactions at schools involve kids with undiagnosed allergies. In Ohio, educators, administrators, and “Good Samaritans” cannot use an EpiPen in the event of an emergency unless the student needing treatment has a prescription, even if that student is having a life-threatening allergic reaction. The allergic reactions, like anaphylaxis shock syndrome and others, can occur within minutes of exposure to any allergen. One in 13 children has food allergies. That is an average of two children in every classroom. Food allergies are one of the most common causes of anaphylactic shock. Insect stings on the playground or sports field are another hazard at school that can cause extreme allergic reactions.
Brown outlined his support for Ohio House Bill 296, which would allow Ohio schools to keep undesignated EpiPens on hand for students regardless of whether they have known or undiagnosed allergies. But Brown will urge Gov. Kasich and the Ohio Statehouse to take further action, since the Ohio bill would only give incentives to schools that maintain a supply of epinephrine. The federal law signed last week provides priority federal funding to states that ensure that all schools maintain a supply of epinephrine without a prescription.
Joining Brown to raise awareness of this issue will be Kate King, the President of the Ohio School Nurses Association (OSNA), and Cuyahoga County mother Ann Norman. Ann didn’t take food allergies seriously until she found herself in an ambulance with her six-month old son who had eaten baby food that triggered an allergic reaction.
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