Is your child allergic to school?

Plenty of kids would love to convince their parents they are allergic to school. But if your child really has allergies or asthma, the classroom may actually bring on physical symptoms.

Allergens are not always obvious. For example, the dustless chalk that many teachers use today can cause reactions in students who have a milk allergy. Low-powder chalk often includes casein, a milk protein that can cause life-threatening asthma attacks and other respiratory issues when inhaled, according to a study published by the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology. “Chalks that are labeled as being anti-dust or dustless still release small particles into the air,” Carlos H. Larramendi, MD said in a statement when the report was published. “Our research has found when the particles are inhaled by children with milk allergy, coughing, wheezing and shortness of breath can occur. Inhalation can also cause nasal congestion, sneezing and a runny nose.”

Even with the use of whiteboards, overhead projectors and tablets, chalk remains a classroom staple. Parents with milk allergic children should ask to have their child seated in the back of the classroom where they are less likely to inhale chalk dust.

But chalk isn’t the only item in a school setting that can be troublesome to milk allergic students. Milk proteins can also be found in glue, paper, ink, and in other children’s lunches.

Milk allergy, which affects an estimated 300,000 children in the United States, is only one allergy that can affect children. Almost 6 million children are estimated to have some kind of allergy — ranging from food, to mold, to even dust.

If your child is sneezing and wheezing at school, or if your child is frequently ill, you should consider whether he or she has undiagnosed allergies. Talk to your pediatrician, or see a board-certified allergist for testing and treatment.

“Teachers should be informed about foods and other triggers that might cause Health problems for children,” says James Sublett, MD, chair of the ACAAI Indoor Environment Committee. “A plan for dealing with allergy and asthma emergencies should also be shared with teachers, coaches and the school nurse.”

For more information about pediatric allergies and asthma, see www.AllergyAndAsthmaRelief.org.

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Tags: Education, Featured Story, Health

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