The start of a new year brought the start of a new law. This one is aimed at saving young people with food allergies.
It's called the School Access to Emergency Epinephrine Act. It encourages states to adopt laws requiring them to keep EpiPens on hand. The pens wouldn't be required for a specific student but for any student that has an emergency reaction.
"I think it's a very big deal because over the last fifteen years, we've seen a 50% increase in food allergies in children," said Huntsville physician Dr. Tim Howard.
Howard said 25% of all food allergies are discovered in school and having the pens handy could be life saving. An allergic reaction to food could result in something minor like a rash. In some people, it could trigger anaphylaxis.
"The whole system shuts down, so not only do you have airway closure, but then your blood pressure drops and all of your system just kind of bottoms out at that point without any intervention," said Dr. Howard.
Schools will get incentives if they choose to have EpiPens in case of an emergency. Each state will have to pass their own version of the law before schools can get them. Supporters said it won't take much training for a teacher or staff member to be taught how to use the pens. Officials encourage schools across the nation to make a plan.
The new law authorizes the Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebeilus to help states maintain an emergency supply of epinephrine and permit trained school personnel to give the drug if necessary.
If you would like to read the bill, click here.
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