Michigan Osteopathic Association

Michigan Osteopathic Association

Report: Michigan Lags in Policies to Protect Kids with Asthma and Allergies at School

Pamela Georgeson, D.O.LANSING—A recently released national report from the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA) highlighted “Honor Roll” states for enacting policies to protect students with asthma and allergies in schools. Michigan did not make the list.

Dealing with asthma and allergies in the school setting, once rare, is now common.  But most states, including Michigan, don’t have core policies in place to protect millions of children who each spend up to eight hours per day at school.

“The growing epidemic of life threatening food allergies makes it more important than ever that education, health and public policy leaders begin the discussion about how schools should be equipped and prepared to protect students,” said Pediatric Allergist Pamela Georgeson, D.O.  “This report should be a wake up call for parents, educators, physicians and lawmakers alike.”

Food allergies are on the rise and have become a serious issue, especially at school. More than 15 million Americans—including 6 million children—suffer from food allergies. In the U.S., food allergies are the number one cause of anaphylaxis, a reaction that can be fatal within minutes, through swelling that shuts off airways or through a drop in blood pressure.

In compiling its report, the AAFA assessed three categories of policies:  Medication & Treatment policies, Awareness policies and School Environment policies.  Within these categories AAFA research and policy experts, in consultation with leaders in the fields of medicine, education and advocacy, identified 18 core policy standards relating to asthma and allergies in schools. Policy areas included school nurse-to-student ratios, laws allowing students to carry and administer their asthma and anaphylaxis medications, indoor air quality policies for school buildings, smoking bans and cessation programs, and more.

States having at least 15 of the 18 policies in place were named to the Honor Roll.  Michigan has 12 of the 18 policies.

According to the report, among the standards Michigan did not meet:

  • State policy mandates schools to identify and maintain records for students with chronic conditions including asthma & anaphylaxis.
  • State requires a procedure updating health records periodically.
  • State requires that schools maintain asthma/allergy incident reports for reactions, attacks, and medications administered.
  • State requires schools to have emergency protocols for asthma.
  • State requires schools to have emergency protocols for anaphylaxis.
  • State recognizes problem of allergy in schools and has begun to address it.

Here is a link to the full analysis of Michigan policy and a link to the full report can be found by visiting http:/www.StateHonorRoll.org.

This fall, State Rep. Lisa Posthumus Lyons (R-Alto) introduced legislation, House Bills 5865 and 5866, to place epinephrine injectors in Michigan schools and train staff to use them.  Epinephrine injectors are the most effective emergency treatment for anaphylaxis.

“As a lawmaker, I hate to see Michigan on a list of states not making the grade; as a mother, I hate even more to see that list be one on an issue of children’s health and safety,” Lyons said. “This is an important health and education issue that needs to be addressed.”

The Michigan Osteopathic Association represents more than 8,000 osteopathic physicians and students and promotes osteopathic medicine in Michigan by shaping the health care delivery system to better serve the community. To learn more about the MOA and osteopathic medicine, visit the MOA website at www.mi-osteopathic.org .

Additional files:
National Chart