THURSDAY, Feb. 9 (HealthDay News) -- When Jane Able's 4-year-old daughter, Ellie, was diagnosed with a severe peanut allergy, the New Albany, Ohio, mother got trained in using an epinephrine pen and never leaves home without it.
The device contains an injectable dose of epinephrine, a hormone that can halt even life-threatening allergic reactions. But it's not only Able who needs to know how to use the device -- so do teachers, babysitters, even the parents of Ellie's friends.
"I carry a 'trainer pen' with me and have them practice using it before I'll leave her," Able said. "I take every precaution."
For the parents of kids with food allergies, the news of the death of 7-year-old Ammaria Johnson -- who died last month at her Chesterfield County, Va., elementary school after eating a peanut given to her by another child -- came as a heartbreaking reminder of how vigilant they need to be to keep their children safe.
Currently, it's up to parents to get a prescription for an epinephrine pen and make sure that one is available for their allergic child at school, although there's a movement to change that. The School Access to Emergency Epinephrine Act, introduced in the U.S. Senate in November and the U.S. House of Representatives in December 2011, would encourage states to allow schools to have epinephrine on hand for use in any student who is having a serious allergic reaction.
The law is supported by the Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Network. "Data shows that up to 25 percent of all epinephrine administrations that occur in the school setting involve students and adult staffers whose allergy was unknown at the time of the event," according to the food allergy network.
EpiPen is a brand name for a commonly carried epinephrine device. Some other brands include Adrenaclick and Adrenalin.
For reasons that are unclear, food allergies are on the rise. Ne
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