Many children suffer from allergies and the symptoms of which are usually mild, however, at some point every school is likely to have at least one pupil who is severely allergic to a type of food or, some other anaphylaxis trigger.
Common causes include foods such as peanuts, tree nuts (e.g. almonds, walnuts, cashews, and Brazil nuts), sesame, fish, shellfish, dairy products and eggs.
Non-food causes include wasp or bee stings, natural latex (rubber), penicillin or any other drug or injection.
In some people, exercise can trigger a severe reaction — either on its own or in combination with other factors such as food or drugs (e.g. aspirin) (1)
Peanuts are a common cause of food allergy, caused when the immune system reacts to the protein found in peanuts. Peanut allergy affects around 2% (1 in 50) of children in the UK and has been increasing in recent decades, (2)
Most severe forms of allergy are manageable with the vast majority of the children affected happily accommodated in mainstream schools thanks to effective communication between parents, school staff, doctors and education authorities.
Tragically, on occasion anaphylaxis can prove fatal. Sadly this was the case in 2017 when a 13 year old schoolboy died when he was exposed to a substance which triggered a severe anaphylactic response. (3)
The Coroner in the subsequent inquest stated that the school could be held accountable for two contributory factors, namely that “there was a missed opportunity by the boy’s school to raise awareness among their pupils of the grave nature of his allergies and the care that needed to be taken to avoid his contact with allergens.” However it was noted that there were other significant failings by other parties that were at least, if not more instrumental in the outcome (3). These being;
Guidance and advice provided therefore focussed on the need for schools to ensure they have a management system in place that;