Only one in four students with asthma and half of children with food allergies have emergency health management plans in place at school, leaving schools inadequately prepared to manage daily needs and handle medical emergencies related to often life-threatening medical conditions, reports a new Northwestern Medicine study in partnership with Chicago Public Schools (CPS).

The study was published in the journal Pediatrics.

In order for schools to be well prepared to handle these medical conditions, including daily control of students’ health and emergencies, school personnel need to have a health management plan from the child’s clinician on file.

Chronic medical conditions affect up to 25 percent of children in the US with asthma and food allergies being among the most common.

A health management plan specifies special requirements for the child during school if medications are needed, and what to do in case of an emergency.

“Given the amount of time kids spend in school, it’s critical for school staff, clinicians and parents to make sure there’s a health management plan in place for students with health conditions,” said Northwestern Medicine pediatrician Ruchi Gupta, MD, lead author of the study. “Not having a health management plan leaves students without a vital safety net during the school day. With kids now returning to school, this is the time to get it done.”