Anaphylaxis - Its Prevention, Recognition and Response in Child Day Care Programs

Every child day care center (DCC), group family day care (GFDC), family day care (FDC) school-age child care (SACC), and small day care center (SDCC) must have a comprehensive Health Care Plan that includes the prevention of allergic reactions and the recognition of and prompt response to anaphylaxis- a multi-system allergic reaction.

Symptoms of anaphylaxis usually involve more than one part of the body such as the skin, mouth, eyes, lungs, heart, gut and brain.

Some symptoms include:

  • Shortness of breath, wheezing, or coughing
  • Pale or bluish skin, faintness, weak pulse, dizziness
  • Tight or hoarse throat, trouble breathing or swallowing

Food allergies are the most common cause of anaphylaxis outside the hospital setting. The most common food allergies in infants and children are eggs, milk, peanuts, tree nuts, soy, wheat, fish and shellfish. Other causes of anaphylaxis include allergies to insect bites, dogs, cats, medications and latex.

It is essential that child day care programs have detailed plans for avoiding accidental exposure to allergens for children with identified allergies and recognizing and treating allergic reactions and anaphylaxis in all children.

The first line drug of choice for emergency treatment of severe allergic reactions to foods, insect stings or bites, drugs or other allergens is an Epinephrine Auto-Injector. With proper training, any childcare staff member can administer this life-saving medication in an emergency when anaphylactic symptoms appear, pursuant to the program's Health Care Plan.

More detailed information regarding the Department's policies and procedures regarding all facets and strategies required to manage allergies for individual children in the childcare program can be found here.

Information on allergy awareness and Elijah’s Law can be found on the Office of Children and Family Services, Division of Child Care Services webpage here.

Topics include:

  • Develop A Plan to Reduce Risk and Manage Reactions for Individual Children
  • Provide Training On Allergies and Anaphylaxis for Child Day Care Programs
  • Reduce the Risk of Exposure to Allergens
  • Respond to Allergy Emergencies
  • Communicate With Family Members, Staff, Volunteers and Children About Allergies