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Food allergy in schools and camps

Scott H Sicherer, MD, FAAAAI
Section Editor
Robert A Wood, MD
Deputy Editor
Elizabeth TePas, MD, MS


Food allergy is estimated to affect 1 in 25 children and is an emerging public health issue in the United States and other Westernized countries [1-4]. The impact of this disorder is felt in daycare, preschool, school, and camp settings; environments that are integral to a child's life [5].

The most common food allergies in childhood are milk, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, wheat, and soy [2,4]. Peanut allergy is of particular concern in the United States because it is implicated in fatal reactions more than any other food [6-9]. However, many foods can cause life-threatening allergic reactions [7-9].

It is crucial for medical professionals to understand the challenge that this disorder presents. The avoidance strategies in place to keep a food-allergic child safe will often impact the entire classroom of children, particularly in the younger age groups.

This topic review will present an overview of the prevalence of food allergy in school-aged children; provide data about food-allergic reactions in schools, camps, and similar environments; and discuss strategies for managing food allergy in these settings.

The information in this topic review provides an overview of the components of effective management of food allergy in schools and camps. Various detailed publications and educational programs are available that provide further resources, such as additional forms, letters, training instructions, and examples of policies enacted by schools and daycare centers. (See 'Resources' below.)

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Literature review current through: Nov 2017. | This topic last updated: Dec 16, 2015.
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