Halloween Haunts Parents of Students with Life-Threatening Food Allergies

Oct 19, 2012, 13:42 ET from Allergy & Asthma Network Mothers of Asthmatics

Anaphylaxis Community Experts Treat Families with Sweet News

MCLEAN, Va., Oct. 19, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- As ghosts and goblins race through neighborhoods chanting "Trick or Treat," parents of children with life-threatening food allergies, called anaphylaxis, feel shivers of fright and real terror according to Allergy & Asthma Network Mothers of Asthmatics (AANMA), the leading patient education, advocacy and outreach organization. For good reason. They've seen that one bite of the wrong treat can turn a fun-filled evening into a nightmare at the hospital.

Even so, AANMA president and founder Nancy Sander says it is possible for parents and their food allergic children to be smart and have fun on the wackiest dress-up night of the year.

"It's a great time for parents to remind children what their food allergens look like and not to eat any unapproved candy or treats until they get home – as well as to reinforce the need to keep two epinephrine auto-injectors everywhere, every day even if that means tucking them in your costume or goodie bag (or asking Mom and Dad to carry them)," Sanders says.

Anaphylaxis Community Expert (ACE) Teams nationwide are helping young people develop independent thinking skills necessary to prevent and respond to food allergy accidents. Volunteer teams are formed by local allergists, school nurses, registered nurses, PAs, and parents through a program developed by AANMA and the American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology. This school year, ACE Teams have trained daycare providers, EMTs, school faculty and staff – as well as at-risk students and patients – how to identify and respond to an anaphylactic emergency.

"Fun begins by eliminating the fear of the unknown. We start with a qualified diagnosis, a written plan, parent and student education to prevent future episodes and training to know when and how to self-administer epinephrine auto-injectors," says Jonathan Malka, M.D., Director, Allergy and Asthma at Pediatric Associates, Miami, Fla., and ACE Team member. "Our goal is to teach school children the signs and symptoms of anaphylaxis and when to ask for help."

"Students in our schools use ACE Team Epi Everywhere! Every Day! bag tags and stickers to show that they know their symptoms, have a written anaphylaxis action plan and carry their epinephrine auto-injectors inside their backpack, purse, book bag or gym bag," says Kam McEwen, RN, School Nurse at Hutchinson High School, Hutchinson, Kan., and ACE Team member. "The bag tags and stickers are a symbol of independence. These students own their allergy. It doesn't own them."

This Halloween, ACE Teams are helping parents and students learn age-appropriate food allergy anaphylaxis prevention and emergency self-management skills. At-risk students who complete free one-on-one or small group ACE training programs at schools, community and worship centers receive free Epi Everywhere! Every Day! bag tags and stickers. To learn more, please visit AANMA's web site at: http://www.aanma.org/anaphylaxiscommunityexperts.

About ACEs
The Anaphylaxis Community Experts (ACEs) program is developed by Allergy & Asthma Network Mothers of Asthmatics (AANMA) and the American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology (ACAAI), sponsored by Mylan Specialty, LP. The ACEs program goal is to save lives through showing parents, teachers, school nurses, emergency responders, and others how to recognize and respond immediately to anaphylaxis symptoms. http://www.aanma.org/anaphylaxiscommunityexperts

Allergy & Asthma Network Mothers of Asthmatics (AANMA) is the leading nonprofit organization dedicated to eliminating suffering and death due to asthma, allergies and related conditions. www.aanma.org

The American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology is a professional association of allergists/immunologists and allied health professionals dedicated to promoting excellence in the practice of allergy and immunology. www.acaai.org

Gary Fitzgerald
Allergy & Asthma Network
Mothers of Asthmatics

SOURCE Allergy & Asthma Network Mothers of Asthmatics