More can be done to properly manage the care of American children with food allergies, especially when it comes to diagnostic testing and recognizing non-visual symptoms of severe allergic reactions, according to a new Northwestern Medicine study.
"Every child with a food allergy should be diagnosed by a physician, have access to life-saving medication such as an epinephrine autoinjector and receive confirmation of the disease through diagnostic testing," said lead author Ruchi Gupta, M.D., an associate professor of pediatrics at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine and a physician at the Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children's Hospital of Chicago. "Not all children are receiving this kind of care."
The study was published online in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, the official publication of the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology.
Data in this study is from a randomized online survey of U.S. households with children with symptoms consistent with a mild-to-severe food allergy. It's the first paper of its kind to offer insight on how pediatric food allergies are typically diagnosed and what can be done to streamline the management of the disease and keep affected children safe.
Here are key findings from the study:
"An oral food challenge might be scary for parents because their child is being fed the allergenic food," Gupta said. "Some physicians think the risks outweigh the benefits, but it is the best tool we have to diagnose a food allergy."
Here are key findings on the kind of reactions children had to the top nine food allergies, which are: egg, finfish, milk, peanut, sesame, shellfish, soy, tree nut and wheat:
"Not all food allergy reactions start with swelling or a rash," Gupta said. "If you suspect your child has eaten something they're allergic to and you don't see a visible sign of a reaction, you need to think about what might be going on internally."
Here are some questions to ask a child after a suspected accidental ingestion of an allergenic food:
"This study shows why it's vital that children receive an accurate diagnosis, and that parents and other caregivers know the signs of a severe reaction and are equipped to respond immediately," said Mary Jane Marchisotto, executive director of the Food Allergy Initiative (FAI), which provided financial support for the study. "We urge families to visit www.faiusa.org, where they will find the information and tools they need to understand and cope with food allergies."
A nonprofit founded in 1998 by concerned parents and grandparents, FAI is the world's largest private funder of food allergy research.
Cite This Page: