The Allergy Mom® Melissa Scheichl Provides Education and Support

Melissa Scheichl

Growing up Melissa Scheichl (aka The Allergy Mom®) of the Greater Toronto Area of Ontario, Canada, had both seasonal and food allergies and her mother suffered a dangerous anaphylactic reaction to a bee sting. As challenging and scary as these experiences were, however, allergies did not become a major focus of her life until her children were born almost 16 and 14 years ago.  
Read the article here.

Illinois Gov. signs new epi legislation

illinois governor patrick j. quinn
Illinois Governor Patrick J. Quinn hands out pens used in a signing ceremony at the State of Illinois Building in Chicago on Wednesday, July 30, 2014. The legislation expands who at Illinois schools would be allowed to administer epinephrine, from just nurses to any trained school employee or... (Terrence Antonio James/Chicago Tribune)

New law lets more school workers use emergency injection on students

Illinois has joined the ever growing number of states enacting legislation to protect kids with allergies in schools. Unfortunately it took the death of a seventh grade student to win support.

By Meredith Rodriguez,
Chicago Tribune reporter

Trained school employees and volunteers will be allowed to administer an emergency epinephrine injection if they believe a student or visitor is having an allergic reaction under a bill signed Wednesday by Gov. Pat Quinn.

The legislation expands on a 2011 law that allowed school nurses to give the drug to any student believed to be having a life-threatening allergic reaction, even if the child had not been diagnosed with an allergy.

“We want to make sure we do everything in our schools to protect the good health of our students,” said Quinn, surrounded by parents, students and health advocates.

That 2011 law also removed a restriction that prevented schools from keeping epinephrine in stock. It was inspired in part by the death a year earlier of Katelyn Carlson, a seventh-grader who went into a severe allergic reaction after eating food cooked in peanut oil during a school party at Edison Regional Gifted Center in Chicago's Albany Park neighborhood.

The girl did not receive an injection of epinephrine, often known by the brand name EpiPen, a hormone that can counter severe allergic reactions by opening airways, improving blood circulation and reducing swelling.

At the time, state law prohibited school officials from dispensing the drug unless it had been prescribed to a student by a physician, supplied by a parent and listed on the student's medical plan.

At the press conference Wednesday, Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan said that at least 25 percent of first-time allergic reactions occur in schools, not all of which have nurses on staff.

“Everyday parents send their children — many of whom have known food allergies and many who have unknown food allergies — to school and out into the world,” Madigan said. “That gives you a sense of how important it is to have epinephrine in schools.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that 1 in 25 children have at least one food allergy, and the number is increasing.

The law, which goes into effect August 1, also sets curriculum requirements to train school personnel and allows students to carry and administer their own epinephrine injections with parental consent, according to Quinn's office.

Copyright © 2014, Chicago Tribune

New Epinephrine Study Shows Alarming Results

Jayden is allergic to peanuts
Jayden is allergic to peanuts and carries his epinephrine in a red pouch.

A Disappointing Reality: Many Families of Food-Allergic Kids Are Not Carrying Epinephrine

Doctors at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio recently polled 35 families at their allergy clinic, and were shocked to find how many were not carrying epinephrine with them. This includes 29% of those who previously had to use it due to a bad allergic reaction. This article  gives some very helpful advice on how to remember to carry it everywhere and how to to get prescription reminders and discounts.

By David Stukus, MD

It is a well-known fact that epinephrine is the best treatment for anaphylactic reactions. Patients or their adult caregivers are urged to always keep their epinephrine auto-injectors close at hand. Epinephrine should be given as early as possible after a reaction begins.

Unfortunately, many food-allergic children do not have immediate access to this life-saving medication. There has been much focus on making sure that epinephrine is available at school and in places where kids are away from their families. But, it appears that epinephrine may not always be available when kids are with their families, either.

An Alarming Study

My co-workers and I recently conducted a survey at Nationwide Children’s Hospital’s allergy clinic. We asked families of kids with food allergies who saw an allergist at the clinic whether they had their self-injectable epinephrine with them at the time. To a large degree the answer was “no” – even among those at the highest risk of severe reactions.

Although this preliminary study only involved 35 families, the results were so alarming that they could not be ignored:

  • Most not carrying – 60% said that epinephrine should be carried at all times, but only 40% had it with them at the clinic.
  • Expired devices – Of those who did have self-injectable epinephrine with them, nearly 50% were carrying devices that had expired.
  • High-risk patients – Of those with the highest risk factors for a severe reaction:
    • 20% had experienced a prior allergic reaction to food that required treatment with self-administered epinephrine; only 29% of these patients had epinephrine with them at the clinic.
    • 90% had been diagnosed with peanut allergy; only 43% of these patients had epinephrine with them at the clinic.
    • 60% had been diagnosed with asthma in addition to food allergy; only 38% had epinephrine with them at the clinic.

Why Aren’t People Carrying Epinephrine?

The most common reasons why patients say they do not carry their epinephrine auto-injectors with them at all times include:

  • Inconvenience
  • Forgetfulness
  • Cost
  • Availability at other places, such as the home, car or school
  • Expiration of the previous prescription
  • Complacency if there has been no accidental exposure in a long time
  • Did not understand that they were supposed to carry it at all times

What All This Means

Education, as always, is key! Physicians need to start routinely asking patients if they have their epinephrine with them. For example, they should ask if they always take it to restaurants, parties, the park, etc. And everyone in the food allergy community needs to help get the word out that:

  • Financial assistance is available – There are “$100 Off Co-Pay” offers available for EpiPens® and Auvi-Q®.
  • Prescription reminders are available – If you ask, most pharmacies will automatically reorder before your current devices expire. You can also sign up to get EpiPen® or Auvi-Q® expiration reminders via email at https://www.epipen.com/en/my-epipen or https://www.auvi-q.com/sign-up.
  • A variety of great carrying cases are available – A list of some of the options is available here.
  • There are many ways to remember your meds – I always recommend that patients keep their epinephrine auto-injectors out in the open, such as next to the car keys, book bag or purse. If you sock them away in a medicine cabinet or drawer, it’s easy to forget to grab them every time you leave the house.
  • Epinephrine should not be kept in the car – Cars can get very hot or very cold. These extreme temperatures can change the medication and make it ineffective. Beyond that, though, an auto-injector that is in the car is an auto-injector that is not within reach. In an emergency, you want to be able to use your auto-injector immediately – not a few minutes later after you get the device from the car.

Remember, emergencies are never planned! Epinephrine auto-injectors are meant to be kept within reach at all times. During an anaphylactic reaction, minutes – or even seconds – count.

Dr. Stukus is an Assistant Professor of Pediatrics in the Section of Allergy/Immunology at Nationwide Children's Hospital, in Columbus Ohio. In addition to his interest in caring for families with food allergies and other allergic conditions, he also serves as Co-Director of the Specialty Asthma Clinic. He previously completed his pediatric residency at Nationwide Children's Hospital and his fellowship in Allergy/Immunology at the Cleveland Clinic Foundation. Dr. Stukus is the co-chair of the Kids With Food Allergies Medical Advisory Team. He is married with two children.

Peanut allergy prevalence in US children continues to rise

shelled and unshelled peanutsResearchers at Project Viva, conducted by Harvard Vanguard Medical Associates in Massachusetts, confirmed what we all have been reading about in the news: peanut allergies in children continue to rise. The research was conducted between 1999 and 2002 and found the prevalence of peanut allergies in children ranges from 2-5%, higher than what was previously reported.

Peanut allergy prevalence in US children continues to rise

August 1, 2014

Prevalence of peanut allergy among US children ranged from 2% to 5% based on testing criteria, reflecting higher than previously reported estimates.

Researchers used varying criteria to compare prevalence estimates of peanut allergy among children aged 7 to 10 years participating in a birth cohort not selected for allergy or other disease. Reported symptoms, specific IgE (sIgE) levels, clinical information and combined variables determined peanut allergy prevalence. Enrollment in Project Viva, from Harvard Vanguard Medical Associates in Massachusetts, occurred between 1999 and 2002 in pregnant women who gave birth to 2,128 singleton children.

Questionnaires were administered at 6 months, 1 year and then annually. There was an in-person meeting for 1,277 children; 55% had blood drawn and of those, 87.7% were measured for sIgE levels. Twenty-seven patients self-reported peanut allergy for a prevalence of 4.6% (95% CI, 2.9%-6.3%), which was “higher than previously reported estimates of self-reported peanut allergy among US children of comparable age.”

“Clinical peanut allergy” based on sIgE criteria was determined in 31 patients, yielding a prevalence of 5% (95% CI, 3.5%-7.1%), and peanut allergy defined by sensitization and prescribed epinephrine auto injector was 4.9% (95% CI, 3.2%-6.7%) in 29 patients. In patients with peanut sIgE of at least 14 kU/L with 90% specificity, 18 were indicated for a prevalence of 2.9% (95% CI, 1.6%-4.3%), “which is still higher than previously reported estimates by any criteria,” the researchers wrote.

When the researchers used the strictest definition of allergy, including peanut IgE greater than the 90% specificity decision point and prescribed epinephrine auto injector, 12 patients yielded a prevalence of 2% (95% CI, 0.9%-3.2%).

“The relatively high prevalence rates we observed may reflect continued rise of peanut allergy prevalence in the US, consistent with the rising trend in self-reported peanut allergy. They support that peanut allergy is an increasingly prevalent condition,” the researchers concluded.

Bunyavanich S. J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2014;doi:10.1016/j.jaci.2014.05.050.

The information provided on this site is in no way intended to be a substitute for medical advice,
diagnosis, or treatment with a licensed physician.
The Allergy Advocacy Association is a 501(c)(3) non-profit, tax-exempt organization.
Copyright 2020 © Allergy Advocacy Association, Inc. All rights reserved.  Terms & Conditions