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Health ministry drafts measures to prevent food allergy deaths at schools

21 Comments

A special panel of the health ministry this week presented an interim report containing guidelines on preventing death or illness due to food allergies at schools.

The panel was formed after an 11-year-old girl, who was allergic to dairy products, died of anaphylactic shock after she ate a school lunch in Chofu, Tokyo, last December.

The report pointed out that allergy guidelines distributed to each school have not been actively used, Fuji TV reported Tuesday. The ministry said it will improve allergy manuals as well as instruct teachers on how to treat children suffering an allergy attack. In the past, some teachers have expressed reluctance about using epinephrine auto-injectors to inject adrenaline when students have an allergy attack.

The ministry also wants to strengthen communication between local fire stations, schools and parents who will be asked to make sure schools have a record of their children's allergies and what drugs are to be used in case allergic symptoms appear, Fuji reported.

Starting from August, the ministry will conduct a survey of all public schools on the numbers of children known to have allergies and how they are dealing with them.

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21 Comments
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The guidelines in place have not been used? what is making new guidelines going to ? A child could be dying right in front of them and they are reluctant to use an epipen? Not fit to be an educator.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

A child could be dying right in front of them and they are reluctant to use an epipen? Not fit to be an educator.

While I understand and empathize with your comments, you need to understand that here in Japan there are consequences that people face when making a choice to assist a person in medical need.

I can understand the teachers reluctance, let's say for discussions sake here only, the teacher takes the initiative and uses the injector, and the child slips into a coma, or heaven forbid dies. It is highly possible that the teacher would then be held accountable for that child financially, even though they did the right thing.

Doing nothing, while horrible to consider, is one option. It places the teachers, already over worked, under trained, and stressed out in a life or death position that needs to be dealt with in their training process.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Based on news articles I've been reading this year and last, I thought the problem was food poisoning.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

@Sillygirl, children can still die after being injected with the epi-pen as well, the parents in this case used it three times on their daughter and she still sadly passed away. The teachers reluctance is not without reason.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/national/health-science/girl-with-peanut-allergy-dies-after-taking-bite-of-treat-at-northern-california-summer-camp/2013/07/30/ef50c51e-f93a-11e2-a954-358d90d5d72d_story.html?tid=pm_national_pop

1 ( +1 / -0 )

School menu should be more conscious of students who need different diets.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

A panel, another panel in response to a death last December. As already said new guidelines to replace old guidelines that no one followed anyway. Pretty much sums up a whole lot. I am confident that the panel will be compensated for their time and hard work.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

There is no medical reason to not administer epinepherine to someone having an allergic reaction. It is an amazingly safe drug with almost no negative reactions. It is important to administer a long acting antihistamine immediately after epi, as the effects wear off after 10 or 15 minutes. That is why many epipens include a second manual injection dose.

Now I can't comment on the medicolegal liability issues in Japan, if schools provide training and a clear policy of how to react, it seems logical that they would be protected from liability. I'm curious if there is any kind of good samaritan protections here.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

you know @yubaru, i'd rather risk it then sit by idly and watch a child die. even if the child dies, i'd have a clear conscious because i did EVERYTHING possible to save a child's life.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

I'm surprised there is no set guideline. Before kids enter first grade, there are paperworks that have to filled out - including a food allergy checklist. If a child has allergy, the school and the parent(s) should discuss the "if" situations.

Then there are those who don't really believe in epi-pens. I don't think Japanese doctors are really keen on it. I have a friend whose son has peanut allergies. His face swells up and breaks out into hives. My friend (and the doctor) say the reaction isn't severe enough to warrant an epi-pen. He doesn't even have a pen. Seriously? Does her son need to be dying to use it?

Like rickyvee said, I'd be able to forgive myself if I tried everything possible to save a child's life than not doing anything.

Educating the doctors and the public is what will lessen the number of allergy-related deaths.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

My child is 3.5 years old and knows to ask "what is in this food?". He also knows to say, "I am sorry, I am not allowed to eat anything that my mother did not put in my lunch for me". He also knows to tell other kids that he has allergies. I suspect that in typical Japanese fashion (I am Japanese by the way) that other kids mock and bully those with allergies. I have told my son to not tolerate any bullying and if he has to punch out a bully, then he has my permission, so long as he feel it is justified. As his dad, I will deal with the consequences. I am not going to let other kids, whose idiot parents can't teach proper manners to dictate my son's life. So as far as teachers are concerned, I give full permission to the teacher, in writing to use the Epipen if needed. They also call me or my wife immediately if there is a problem. Reluctant to do what's right....thanks to the stupid lawyers, we live in a world like this.

My point is that all of this can be managed if parents take the initiative to take control.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

He also knows to tell other kids that he has allergies. I suspect that in typical Japanese fashion (I am Japanese by the way) that other kids mock and bully those with allergies. I have told my son to not tolerate any bullying and if he has to punch out a bully, then he has my permission, so long as he feel it is justified.

Allergies is one thing, bullying something totally different, but raising a child with the express permission of their parents to use violence as a means to deal with a situation is different and 100% wrong in my opinion.

Defending oneself is one thing, but teaching a child that it's ok to stop someone from bullying them by punching them just makes the situation worse.

My point is that all of this can be managed if parents take the initiative to take control.

If your way of control is to hit every kid that causes a problem or allow your child to hit those who bother him I sincerely pray that parents like you do not "take the initiative to take control"

There are other ways to do it!

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Yubaru I do agree, but as we know life throws things at you and having the support of your parents , knowing you have their support in the worst of times is a huge plus. I would never condone violence but Kelly has a son who has allergys and is subject to bulling so it's reasonably normal to expect a parent to support their child. It's up to a parent to teach their child, what are the bully's parents teaching their child?

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

but as we know life throws things at you and having the support of your parents , knowing you have their support in the worst of times is a huge plus.

That is a given, and should be something all children are getting, but supporting them does not mean teaching them that violence is an end to justify the means.

I would never condone violence but Kelly has a son who has allergys and is subject to bulling so it's reasonably normal to expect a parent to support their child. It's up to a parent to teach their child, what are the bully's parents teaching their child?

I don't believe you realize it, but you are exactly condoning violence because you are condoning Kelly's response to how his child should deal with the situation.

The child is 3.5 years old, at that age kids no matter where they are are prone to be singled out if they are different. It is the responsibility of his parents and teachers to teach the other kids what behavior is acceptable or not. And consider this too, you teach a child at that age that hitting other children is justifiable, that child will more than likely end up using their fists to get what they want and quite possibly turn into a bully themselves one day, because they will learn that, and wrongly so at that, that violent actions are a means to control people and get what they want.

Education, education, education.....that is the answer plain and simple. The teachers a Kelly's son's school HAVE to teach the other kids about differences in people, and about how to treat and accept those that are different.

He is doing more harm than good by promoting violence in a child and I question his ability to properly support and nurture a child and raise a child.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Good point and I do agree. Violence or support of violence is detestable. My point was when confronted with bullying what do you do? Teachers should be aware and manage the situation, if they can not? What do you say as a parent? Run? All that is needed in this situation is a Diaticion to oversee school menus, might be bland but no one will die. Bullies are the product of bad parents. Can not stop stupid this. Just teach our kids to cope.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Readers, please stay on topic. Bullying is not relevant to this discussion.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Cricky the child is 3.5 and not a teenager, food allergies particularly at that age should be monitored by the day care center where he is in school, and the teachers should be teaching the other kids that this boy can not eat just anything and there is nothing wrong with it either.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I agree. That is and should be the end of it.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Sounds like they are finally going to engage in a little common sense, though of course only because they've been caught with their pants down.

Yubaru: "While I understand and empathize with your comments, you need to understand that here in Japan there are consequences that people face when making a choice to assist a person in medical need."

What consequences? First of all, they are not at all as likely to face any kind of lawsuits or prison time, etc. for taking action, as they would in, say, the US, where people get sued for breaking the ribs of a person they gave CPR to. Second, I believe your statement is only PARTLY correct -- if you are an average Joe Tanaka walking down the street and decide to help someone then you can be liable for the consequences. If you are a teacher, life guard, daycare center worker or what have you and a person in your charge falls ill you are OBLIGED by law to help them. Educators should know who has what allergy, and how to deal with it in the event of an emergency. The schools should stock epipens for such reasons, and finally school lunch should be stopped -- the companies, and I have been to one several times to see how they work and to accompany a friend who has to go there constantly to check that her daughter's allergies are not being ignored, are lax at best when it comes to prep.

-4 ( +0 / -4 )

@yubaru - oh, I understand. I have been here over 20 years with kids who have "gone through the system." Most teachers I know have taken (the real) first aid courses and know what to do in an emergency. now there are AED machines everywhere, so don't give me that totally uniquely unique situation here. Many years ago I was an average Josephine and saw someone hurt and I did nothing. I still regret it to this day. I am a furringer and who knows what would have happened.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

I'm afraid I know of cases where a teacher has bullied children about eating school lunch. In one case, the teacher refused to admit that the allergies existed when notified by parents at the beginning of the school year, and continued to make disparaging comments in front of other children, despite several allergy-related hospitalizations over the school year.

The school refused to permit the child to bring a packed lunch "in case we were blamed for anything that happened to the lunch during the morning", and also refused to allow the child's medication to be kept by the school nurse, stating that they were not willing to permit any medication in school unless the mother brought it directly to the classroom and administered it herself, passing over the child's lunchbox at the same time.

I thought this was excessively punitive, and found it difficult to believe that the school had never before had a child who needed to take medicine during the day, and hard to believe that this was their first case of food allergy either. No trouble believing that schools do not implement allergy guidelines. Part of that problem comes from the ambiguous nature of a "guideline" in Japanese legislation.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

The school refused to permit the child to bring a packed lunch "in case we were blamed for anything that happened to the lunch during the morning", and also refused to allow the child's medication to be kept by the school nurse, stating that they were not willing to permit any medication in school unless the mother brought it directly to the classroom and administered it herself, passing over the child's lunchbox at the same time.

This is asinine behavior by the school, and the parents should have taken it up with the one authority that the school's even "fear". The board of education for the school AND the prefecture.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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