Surveyed pediatric patients with food allergies, and accompanying parents and families did not always carry self-injectable epinephrine, according to recent survey results. Researchers surveyed patients or families of patients with a documented history of food allergy during a 30-day follow-up period at the Nationwide Children’s Hospital outpatient allergy clinic, Columbus, Ohio. Age, previously diagnosed food allergies, diagnostic method, symptoms associated with previous food reactions and comorbid atopic conditions were collected. Information about carrying epinephrine auto-injector also was requested.
Thirty-five surveys were returned, and 20% of respondents reported a previous allergic reaction to food requiring treatment with self-administered epinephrine. Twenty-nine percent of those respondents had self-injectable epinephrine with them during the survey. Of the patients with self-injectable epinephrine during the survey, almost 90% had the weight-appropriate dose, but almost 50% of the auto-injectors were expired. While 60% of patients endorsed always carrying self-injectable epinephrine, only 40% of patients had the product available during the survey.
Nearly 90% of respondents reported peanut allergies, but only 43% of the patients had self-injectable epinephrine available. Accidental exposure to a food allergen was reported by 30% of patients, but only one-third of them had epinephrine available during the survey. Availability in other places such as the home, car or school, expiration of previous prescription, cost, and not knowing that it should always be carried were reasons given for not having self-injectable epinephrine with them.
“It will be necessary to continue to foster relationships with patients and their families, teachers, school administrators and staff, and community leaders to provide comprehensive food allergy care,” the researchers concluded. “Moreover, we must routinely evaluate our educational methods with respect to epinephrine efficacy and access; if these methods are ineffective it will be necessary to improve them.”
Dr. Kenneth Backman of Allergy & Asthma Care of Fairfield County comments: "We have long known that one of the strongest risk factors for fatality in patients with food allergy is the absence of immediately available epinephrine. While prescribing of epinephrine autoinjectors is on the rise, unfortunately many patients with food allergy do not carrry them at all times. This is an important issue that education and frequent reminders can hopefully help overcome."