New allergy guidelines for schools recommend against food bans

father and sonA new study from McMaster University has found little evidence that school-wide bans against allergenic foods, like peanut products, are effective in preventing severe allergic reactions. The study, published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, came with a set of new guidelines developed by an international panel of key stakeholders comprised of school employees, health care professionals and parents.

Researchers reported approximately one in ten allergic reactions in children, including cases of anaphylaxis, occur in schools or childcare centres, whereas 90% of reactions occur elsewhere. According to the research, there are no studies estimating the risk of death from anaphylaxis in school settings, but it can be determined that death from food-induced anaphylaxis is rare in any setting.

The study highlights the following top-level recommendations for food allergy management in schools:

- Childcare and school personnel receive training on how to prevent, recognize and respond to allergic reactions.
- Unassigned epinephrine autoinjectors be stocked on-site.
- Parents of children with food allergies should provide the school with an allergy plan.
- Childcare centres and schools do not prohibit specific foods site-wide.

Although the researchers have deemed many of these guidelines as conditional, this study could significantly impact the ways in which children and parents perceive peanuts and peanut products in the future.