Many food-induced anaphylaxis cases in children occur under adult supervision

Montreal researchers found that at least a third of childhood severe food allergy reactions occur in kids who are under adult supervision. And, in most cases, those adults are not the child’s parents.

Scientists from the Research Institute of the McGill University Health Centre collected data from four Canadian emergency departments, looking for incidents of pediatric anaphylaxis – severe allergic reactions in kids that required medical attention.

They found that, in 31.5 per cent of the incidents, the children had been under the supervision of adults. Another 20 per cent involved kids who were unsupervised; in the last 50 per cent of cases, it was not known if the children had been supervised.

In those incidents involving supervised children, the supervising adult was not the child’s parent in 65 per cent of the cases.

The study’s lead investigator, Dr. Moshe Ben-Shoshan, says the study also found that the majority of allergic reactions occurred at home,

“It was a little bit surprising because I think that we have that false sense of security that as long as we are at home under adult supervision, with an adult that we know, we’ll be fine. Apparently, that’s not the case,” he said.

The study also looked at the role food labelling played in the accidental allergic reactions. They found that one third of the incidents were attributed to a food labels issue.

“But when we asked specifically what were the issues, apparently it’s not because the food labels were not clear. The majority of reactions were because we don’t read the food labels,” Dr. Ben-Shoshan said.

He said the fact that food labels are being ignored suggested supervising adults are not being properly instructed on the need for vigilance.

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