Back to School with Food Allergies: Keeping Your Child Safe

collage of nuts, chocolate, eggs, seafood, and fruit

Sending your child back to school can bring up some anxiety for any parent. But for those with children who have food allergies, it can feel even more overwhelming.

We've gathered some expert tips from Nicole Akar-Ghibril, MD, a pediatric allergist at Joe DiMaggio Children's Hospital, to help keep your child with food allergies safe and sound in the school environment.

1. Knowledge is Power: Empower Your Child

It's important to empower your child to be their own advocate.

  • Sit down with your child and have a conversation about the foods they are allergic to and need to avoid.
  • Help them understand the importance of speaking up and letting others know about their food allergies.

By providing them with knowledge, they can confidently navigate their way through school.

2. Communication is Key: Talk to the School

One of the most crucial steps in keeping your child with food allergies safe is to communicate with their school.

  • Make sure to reach out to their teacher(s), school nurse, administrators, baby sitters, and other key people who will be involved in their daily routine.
  • Inform them about your child's food allergies, specific foods they need to steer clear of, and what to do in case of a reaction.
  • Providing the school with anaphylaxis action plans and an epinephrine auto injector is also essential.

It's important that the school nurse and teacher are well-informed about the signs and symptoms of anaphylaxis and know how to use the epinephrine auto injector correctly.

3. Handwashing: A Simple Solution

Accidental ingestion of allergens can happen, but there are steps you can take to minimize the risk.

  • Encourage all kids in your child's class to wash their hands before and after eating.
  • Hand sanitizers don't work to wash off allergens.
  • Make sure the kiddos are using soap and water for the best results.

And finally, remember to talk to your allergist about any concerns you may have about sending your child with food allergies to school. They're here to help guide you through this journey.

About the Author

Akar-Ghibril, Nicole Nicole Akar-Ghibril, MD, is a pediatric allergist and immunologist at Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital. She treats children and teens with a variety of conditions, including primary and secondary immune deficiencies, food allergies, asthma, urticaria, eczema and environmental allergies.

Disclaimer: The ideas and opinions presented in this blog post do not reflect the ideas and opinions of Memorial Healthcare System.