A Pennsylvania senator introduced legislation Tuesday that would require schools to have epinephrine injectors on hand for the treatment of food allergy reactions.
Sen. Matt Smith (D-Allegheny/Washington) said his measure, Senate Bill 898, would require schools to keep the injectors, commonly known as EpiPens, in a secure location to be used by designated personnel.
Smith pointed to a recent survey by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that found about one in 20 children in the United States has food allergies, marking a 50 percent increase from the late 1990s. He said other estimates show more than six million children suffer from food allergies.
Smith additionally pointed to a 2005 study that found 24 percent of severe allergic reactions occurred in children with no prior history of life-threatening allergies.
"Schools are meant to be a safe place for children," he said in a news release. "It's not enough to encourage schools to stock epinephrine injectors. To truly protect our children, we must ensure they have access to life-saving medication."
Similar legislation was introduced in the state House of Representatives last month.