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An allergy develops when the immune system recognises and responds to something in the environment that is normally harmless: e.g. food proteins, pollens or dust mite. An allergic reaction occurs when a child is exposed to that substance and the body's immune system reacts to that substance. Symptoms may be localised or generalised, and range from mild to severe.
The most common causes of allergic reactions in young children are food. In particular:
Other causes are bee or other insect stings ( wasps, jack jumper ants), medication and latex (rubber).
This term is used to describe a severe allergic reaction that involves the respiratory and/or cardiovascular systems. Anaphylaxis is the most severe form of an allergic reaction and is life threatening.
A reaction can develop within minutes of exposure to the allergen, but with planning and training, a reaction can be treated effectively by using an adrenaline autoinjector (Epinephrine). An important aspect of anaphylaxis management is prevention and avoidance of the cause.
A mild to moderate reaction will include one or more of these symptoms, and it is possible that a number of them will occur simultaneously:
Anaphylaxis is the term used to describe a severe systemic allergic reaction that involves the respiratory and/or cardiovascular system.
Presentation of any one of the following symptoms below indicates anaphylaxis:
The first line emergency treatment for anaphylaxis is adrenaline (Epinephrine), all children who have experienced anaphylaxis should be prescribed an adrenaline autoinjector. EpiPen® is currently the only adrenaline autoinjector available for use in Australia. EpiPen Jr® is prescribed for children weighing between 10 - 20 kg, EpiPen® is prescribed for children weighing 20 kg or more. EpiPen® is a single use single dose of adrenaline, and needs to be prescribed initially by an allergist.
Once prescribed by an allergist, a GP can prescribe adrenaline autoinjector and update the ASCIA action plan for anaphylaxis .
Each child who has been prescribed an EpiPen®/EpiPen® Jr, require an ASCIA action plan for anaphylaxis , completed by a doctor. A copy of the ASCIA action plan for anaphylaxis should be provided to schools and children's services by the parents, together with an EpiPen®/EpiPen® Jr.
Banning of products that contain the allergen is NOT recommended.
Banning will not succeed in creating an "allergy free zone". It is difficult to achieve a 100% ban, for a variety of reasons. For example, product labels can be confusing, parents of non-allergic children may not comply with the ban, and lastly, staff and students become complacent.
The child at risk of food allergies should not share food. These children must only have food provided from home or given with the parent's permission.
Any staff, including relief staff, who are responsible for cooking or delivering food to children should know about the child's allergies. They should be aware of alternative words used to describe the particular allergy food. For example, cow's milk may be called casein, and egg may be called ovalbumin. They should also be aware of potential contamination of other foods when preparing, handling or displaying food.
Food containers or packages that contain the allergen should not be used. Parents of children at risk of anaphylaxis can help by checking art/craft products for hidden ingredients, as they are often more aware of terms used.
Separate tables should be used for art/craft and food. Where this is not possible, tables must be cleaned thoroughly between uses.
The EpiPen®/EpiPen® Jr must be taken on all excursions and staff must have had anaphylaxis training and be competent in use of an adrenaline autoinjector (EpiPen®)
The EpiPen®/EpiPen® Jr must be readily available. An adrenaline autoinjector for general use should be taken on all excursion/camps