Going Gluten-FreeJuly 3, 2012

You Never Forget Anaphylaxis

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Posted by Alicia Woodward

Some things you never forget. Ask any American where they were when the Twin Towers fell. Then go back in time—when President Kennedy was shot. Further back—when the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor. There are times in our national history that are so upsetting, so overwhelming, so horrific that we remember them with extreme clarity.

There are similar horrific times in our personal history—like anaphylaxis. If you’ve ever had an anaphylactic episode—or witnessed one in someone you love—it’s certain the event is seared forever in your memory.

Now a new study* published online in the journal Pediatrics turns attention to anaphylaxis and provides valuable insight. Researchers from the Consortium of Food Allergy Research followed more than 500 milk-allergic and egg-allergic children from infancy. They examined these infants and children for “acute, potentially life-threatening symptoms” in order to reveal more about the frequency, circumstances and responses surrounding anaphylaxis.

Findings showed that allergic kids experience nearly one reaction per year and that less than a third of severe reactions are treated with epinephrine (the treatment of choice).

In half the reactions, someone other than the parent provided the trigger food. Nearly 90 percent of allergic reactions were caused by accidental exposure, e.g., unintended ingestion, label-reading errors, cross contamination and mistakes made in food preparation.

In the study, the vast majority of severe reactions were caused by ingestion, rather than skin contact or inhalation.

Researchers concluded that more ongoing education is needed about avoiding trigger foods and the use of epinephrine.

Those who have experienced or witnessed a life-threatening allergic reaction need no reminder. You never forget anaphylaxis.

*Observational Food Allergy Study Allergic Reactions to Foods in Preschool-Aged Children,  http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/130/1/e25.full

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