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Food allergy is a disability under the Americans with Disabilities Act


I have been asked to support the application for a 504 plan for a child (kindergarten age) with Peanut Allergy. 504 plans are formal plans that schools develop to give kids with disabilities the supports they need. These plans prevent discrimination and protect the rights of kids with disabilities in school. They're covered under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, which is a civil rights law. I would like to know if there is any guidance on this. Are food allergies considered disabilities?


In the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and Section 504, a person with a disability is someone who has an impairment (either physical or mental) that substantially limits major life activities (such as eating and breathing and going to school), or who is regarded as having such impairments. In 2008, the ADA was amended to include conditions that only show symptoms at certain times. Food allergies are usually considered disabilities under the ADA. Under the ADA, students who have food allergy are considered to have a disability which restricts their diet. A Task Force/Committee Report "The Allergist's Role in Anaphylaxis and Food Allergy Management in the School and Childcare Setting (Wang et al J Allergy Clin Immunol Pract 2018 Mar-Apr;6(2):427-35) provides excellent, detailed information about food allergy vis a vis federal civil rights legislation in the school setting. National organizations such as Food Allergy Research and Education and the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America also provide detailed information about food allergy and the ADA on their websites. I hope this information is useful to you.

Jacqueline A. Pongracic, MD, FAAAAI