After providing asthma screenings to thousands of the region's school children, Duquesne University has now partnered with Pittsburgh Public Schools (PPS) on a program to educate students and families about food allergies.
The Asthma and Food Allergy Awareness Program features a variety of events, including interactive educational programs, scheduled lecture series for parents and school staff and interactive classroom sessions for children. All events focus on food allergy, asthma awareness and healthy living, with the program reaching 1,800 students ages 3-to-5 in the city's early childhood centers.
"Nearly five percent of children under the age of 5 have food allergies," said Dr. Jennifer Elliott, associate professor of Duquesne's School of Pharmacy. "Through this program, we hope to increase awareness of asthma and food allergy warning signs and offer information that can provide children with a healthy start to their lives."
Eggs, milk, and peanuts are the most common causes of food allergies in children, along with wheat, soy and tree nuts. Peanuts, tree nuts, fish and shellfish commonly cause the most severe reactions, Elliott said.
"Although most children outgrow their allergies, there are people who may have lifelong allergies to peanuts, tree nuts, fish and shellfish," she added.
Duquesne partnered with the health services advisory committee of early childhood education programs of PPS to offer the program. More than 70 Duquesne pharmacy students are conducting the interactive classroom sessions for children.