The federal government is issuing its first guidelines to schools on how to protect children with food allergies.
The voluntary guidelines call on schools to take such steps as restricting nuts, shellfish or other foods that can cause allergic reactions, and make sure emergency allergy medicine — like EpiPens — are available.
About 15 states — and numerous individual schools or school districts — already have policies of their own. "The need is here" for a more comprehensive, standardized way for schools to deal with this issue, said Dr. Wayne Giles, who oversaw development of the advice for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Food allergies are a growing concern. A recent CDC survey estimated that about 1 in 20 U.S. children have food allergies — a 50 percent increase from the late 1990s. Experts aren't sure why cases are rising.