Managing food allergies in inner-city schools poses a unique challenge with many overlapping factors. The path toward an optimal solution requires addressing each of these in turn.
Food allergies affect about 8% of children in the United States. Management of allergies usually involves both preventing allergic responses and treating allergic reactions, both of which provide unique challenges in inner-city school environments. This article, published in the Annals of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology, provides an analysis of the epidemiology of food allergy in school-aged children, as well as management difficulties, disparities, and opportunities that are specific to the inner-city population.
For this study, the researchers relied on data sourced from literature in the PubMed database. Literature on epidemiology, allergy management, school policies, disparities, inner-city, race, ethnicity, and socioeconomic status was targeted to allow for comprehensive data retrieval.
Managing food allergy in schools was found to be complex, controversial, and variable, with evidence-based guidance being minimal. Among the difficulties involved in properly maintaining food allergy-related concerns in this population were low income, a lack of full-time school nurses, bureaucratic challenges, and language difficulties. These factors also made determining a standardized regimen difficult, as evidence-based responses can still vary with respect to which population, allergy, and environment they are tailored to.
In their conclusion, the authors note that one of the central difficulties in creating a balanced approach to food allergies in schools is maximizing the emotional well-being of students while minimizing the risk of allergic reactions. Some responses that minimize allergic reactions may have other adverse effects on psychosocial functioning, and the challenge of both finding an optimal balance and properly implementing it is significant.
Bartnikas, L. M., Dupuis, R., Wang, J., & Phipatanakul, W. (2022). Food Allergies in Inner-City Schools: Addressing Disparities and Improving Management. Annals of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology, 129(4), 430-439. doi:10.1016/j.anai.2022.04.035