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New Virginia Law Requires Epi-Pens In Schools

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Ammaria Pendleton, 7, died in January following an allergic reaction she suffered while at school in Chesterfield County, Va. Ever since then, her mother, Laura Pendleton, has advocated for better emergency planning in schools.

Pendleton's painful reality and subsequent dedication didn't go unnoticed. Gov. Bob McDonnell yesterday signed into law a bill that requires every school in the state to carry emergency epinephrine auto injectors, known as epi-pens.

While school officials scrambled to assist Laura Pendleton's daughter in January after another child gave her a peanut, a simple epi-pen would have saved time and Ammaria's life. 

Pendleton had provided an emergency plan for school officials to administer Benadryl if Ammaria came in contact with peanuts, since school policy prevented them from using an epi-pen. Sixteen to 18 percent of children with known food allergies have reactions while in school. 

But 25 percent of reactions in schools occur in students who are previously undiagnosed, which is why Pendleton wants national legislation passed to address this.

"So no mother has to go through what I went through," Pendleton says. "And even children who don't know they have allergies, or not even necessarily a food allergy, it could be a bee sting or anything, any type of allergy. They will be prepared."

The new law signed by Governor McDonnell requires epi-pens to be stocked in each school, while the budget provides funds to pay for them. The new guidelines must be implemented for the 2012-2013 school year.

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