OBJECTIVE: We sought to establish the frequency of receiving >1 dose of epinephrine in children who present to the emergency department (ED) with food-related anaphylaxis.
PATIENTS AND METHODS: We performed a medical chart review at Boston hospitals of all children presenting to the ED for food-related acute allergic reactions between January 1, 2001, and December 31, 2006. We focused on causative foods, clinical presentations, and emergency treatments.
RESULTS: Through random sampling and appropriate weighting, the 605 reviewed cases represented a study cohort of 1255 patients. These patients had a median age of 5.8 years (95% confidence interval [CI]: 5.3–6.3), and the cohort was 62% male. A variety of foods provoked the allergic reactions, including peanuts (23%), tree nuts (18%), and milk (15%). Approximately half (52% [95% CI: 48–57]) of the children met diagnostic criteria for food-related anaphylaxis. Among those with anaphylaxis, 31% received 1 dose and 3% received >1 dose of epinephrine before their arrival to the ED. In the ED, patients with anaphylaxis received antihistamines (59%), corticosteroids (57%), epinephrine (20%). Over the course of their reaction, 44% of patients with food-related anaphylaxis received epinephrine, and among this subset of patients, 12% (95% CI: 9–14) received >1 dose. Risk factors for repeat epinephrine use included older age and transfer from an outside hospital. Most patients (88%) were discharged from the hospital. On ED discharge, 43% were prescribed self-injectable epinephrine, and only 22% were referred to an allergist.
CONCLUSIONS: Among children with food-related anaphylaxis who received epinephrine, 12% received a second dose. Results of this study support the recommendation that children at risk for food-related anaphylaxis carry 2 doses of epinephrine.
- Accepted November 20, 2009.
- Copyright © 2010 by the American Academy of Pediatrics