Schoolchildren will take on some of the responsibility of caring for students with severe food allergies with the launch of a classroom resource on anaphylaxis.
The resource, called Be a MATE (Make Allergy Treatment Easier), teaches students how to prevent allergic reactions, recognise the signs of a severe allergic reaction in their friends and to get help if a reaction occurs.
Princess Margaret Hospital head of immunology Richard Loh said the resource - designed by the WA Health Department and Allergy & Anaphylaxis Australia - was a first for Australian schools and had the potential to save lives.
Professor Loh said anaphylaxis was an increasing problem and one in 10 children aged under 12 months now had documented food allergies.
"Many do outgrow it, but in the larger schools you often have 20 or 30 children with food allergies with adrenaline auto-injectors," he said.
Professor Loh said young children were naturally protective and raising awareness about an issue helped remove fear.
Jackie Williams, whose four-year-old son Art has a severe allergy to nuts, said the accessibility of a curriculum resource at Art's school would make it a safer place for him.The Be a MATE resource is available free on the Allergy & Anaphylaxis Australia website but each school will have to buy resources to help teach the program to students.