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Published on August 19, 2013

Prepare for Back-To-School Medical Needs

August 19, 2013

Kids Going to SchoolIf your child has allergies or a medical condition, take time to plan for a healthy year at school. For children with special health needs a little preparation can lead to a more successful school year.

Environmental Allergies and Asthma

If your child has mild allergies, such as hay fever, help him or her prepare for ragweed season by sending over-the-counter or prescription medications to the school nurse before the sniffles are due to start.

If your child has more severe allergies, alert the school. Set up a meeting with your child’s teacher and the school nurse to detail the allergies, medications and emergency interventions. Convey the information in writing, too, and find out who at the school is responsible for administering emergency treatment, such as epinephrine, should your child suffer an allergy attack during school hours. If your child has life-threatening allergies, he or she should wear an emergency bracelet at all times.

Make similar preparations for children with asthma. Provide inhalers and other medication before they’re needed, and confirm written information in a meeting with teachers and school health officials.

Some schools allow children to carry and administer their own inhalers, while others only permit nurses, teachers or other designated people to do it. Familiarize yourself with your school’s policy, including who administers medications when there’s a substitute teacher or if your child goes on a field trip.

Food Allergies, Diabetes and Other Dietary Needs

If your child has special dietary needs, such as diabetic or other health-related restrictions or food allergies, it’s important to work with the school regarding those concerns. Clear communication with your child’s school custodians is a must. The American Academy of Pediatrics suggests planning early and communicating your child’s health needs in writing to the school. They also advocate creating an emergency plan detailing the steps to take in the event of an adverse health event, such as hyperglycemia or hypoglycemia. Send adequate daily and emergency supplies to school, and have clear guidelines for those administering treatments and medications.

Also, ensure your child has the maturity and understanding to identify and refuse foods that will harm him or her. This is important, as even the most careful school personnel cannot control every bite a child eats.


Take time to learn about your school’s medication policy (who dispenses medications, how containers should be labeled and how meds should be conveyed to and from the school) before you need to use it. In an era of zero-tolerance policies, however, many school districts may suspend or otherwise discipline a child for possessing over-the-counter medications at school.

With a little forethought, your child will be off to a healthy start during the new school year.


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