27 states now have epinephrine laws for schools

Sixteen states have added epinephrine laws for schools this year, joining the 11 others that already had such laws on the books. Tennessee, which recently enacted a law that encourages schools to stock epinephrine to treat children suffering from allergic reactions, is the latest to join the others.

Only four of the 27 states with epinephrine laws have required schools to carry the injectors, but all have made it legal for schools to stock epinephrine without a prescription for a specific child and to use it on children in an emergency. Most states also have training programs and provide legal protection for staff members who use the auto-injectors in an emergency.

In case of emergency

Many children with food allergies carry their own auto-injectors, along with a prescription, and school staff is generally allowed to administer it in an emergency in every state in the country.

This, however, does not go far enough. Quite often, school is where a child is first exposed to an unknown allergen and has his or her first reaction, experts say. The response time for epinephrine injection – which suppresses some of the body's over-reaction to the allergen – can mean saving a child's life or preventing long-term injury. Hence the reasoning behind having it on hand for use with any child.

Ohio and Michigan have bills pending that would put them on the growing list of states stocking epinephrine in schools. Maryland, Nebraska, Nevada and Virginia are the only states that require schools have auto-injectors on hand. The U.S. Congress is considering legislation that would encourage states to pass laws by offering preference for asthma-related grants for those states' schools.

About 8 percent, or 6 million, children under the age of 18 in the U.S. have at least one food allergy.

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