It is rare thjat a child dies at school from an acute allergy or asthma attack, but when this occurs, they usually did not have a health management plan, according to Dr Ruchi Gupta of the Center for Community Health at the Feinberg School of Medicine at Northwestern University in Chicago. The plan is also called a 504 plan.
The “504” in “504 plan” refers to Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act. The plans are tailored for each child. For kids with asthma or allergies, for example, the plan might include day-to-day medications to be given by the school nurse, how to treat a mild asthma or allergy attack, and how to deal with an acute attack.
“Every school has a system for managing health conditions in schools,” but many kids, especially from low-income or minority families, are not included in the system, Gupta told Reuters Health by phone.
Gupta and colleagues analyzed data from 2012/2013 on more than 400,000 Chicago kids, ages 3 through 18, including 18,287 with asthma and 4,250 with a food allergy.
Only a quarter of the asthmatic students and half of those with a food allergy had a 504 Plan on file at school, according to results in the journal Pediatrics.
“We’d love to get that number to 100 percent,” Gupta said.
“If a school doesn’t have (a health management plan) on file, there’s nothing they can do besides call 911. Even if they have albuterol, they can’t give it because they don’t have authorization from the parents,” Dr. Delaney Gracy, chief medical officer for Children’s Health Fund in New York City, told Reuters Health by phone.