It’s been four years since Elijah Silvera passed away after eating a grilled cheese sandwich at daycare. He had several known food allergies at the time, but the ingestion of dairy led to a severe reaction that put him in the hospital. The staff at the daycare had even been informed of Elijah’s allergies and had them on record.
After he passed away, his family rallied New York state lawmakers to pass what’s known as “Elijah’s Law”, a program designed to help childcare providers prepare for and prevent food allergy emergencies.
How Elijah Changed Childcare for the Better
Elijah was just 3 years old when he passed away on November 3, 2017. His family remembers him as a “lively” kid that started walking without first learning how to crawl. He was joyful, independent, and inquisitive. His father adds that it was always “his way or no way”.
Upon ingesting the sandwich, Elijah started wheezing as he experienced an asthma attack. His parents weren’t told what he had eaten and 9-1-1 was never called. As his symptoms continued, he was rushed to the ER where he went into anaphylaxis.
According to his family, Elijah’s asthma was under control at the time. He was on an inhaled corticosteroid 2x per day and took albuterol as needed. He also had a meal plan at his pre-K facility, and the family was very careful about reading labels to check for his allergens before giving them to Elijah.
After his death, his father Thomas Silvera founded the non-profit Elijah-Alavi Foundation Inc. in honor of his son. The family shared their son’s story to encourage lawmakers to prevent such a tragedy from ever happening again.
In 2019, the New York legislature adopted “Elijah’s Law”. It is now in effect across the state.
Childcare centers must now implement new guidelines for treating and preventing severe reactions to food allergies, which can be fatal if not treated properly. Many children may have or develop a food allergy without their parents realizing it.
The CDC estimates that 1 in 13 children is impacted by allergies. If they have an allergic reaction and go into anaphylaxis, it must be treated right away.
The law requires centers and facilities to implement a communication plan in case of a severe allergic reaction as well as a response plan that includes keeping an Auvi-Q epinephrine auto injector on hand. The Auvi-Q injector is dosed for small children who weigh between 16.5 and 33 pounds.
Providers and caregivers must know how to act quickly in these situations to prevent the worst-case scenario. Parents of children with food allergies also need to know that their kids will be safe when they leave them with a guardian or caregiver.
Caregivers and providers in the state should visit the state’s online learning portal to complete the required learning material. It has everything they need to know about complying with the law, administering medication, and preventing severe reactions in children. Once they finish the course, they can request their free Auvi-Q injector.
Now that the law is in effect, children and parents across the state can rest easy knowing they are in good hands. Elijah’s experience changed how providers and caregivers think about childhood food allergies for the better.