Food allergic children exposed to allergens by parents

A survey conducted by Mount Sinai Hospital’s food allergy clinic study found 44 percent of parents take significant risks in managing food allergies in their children.

In a result thought to be based on media reports of successful allergy immunotherapy, 23 percent of parents said they intentionally exposed their child to an allergen. Other risks reported by the parents included not reading food labels or not carrying an epinephrine auto-injector. Parents of kids with multiple food allergies were more likely to report taking risks than those with one food allergy.

The survey was conducted to gain understanding of why so many inner city kids are experiencing severe allergic reactions following diagnosis. One hundred parents of food-allergic children, aged six months to 18 years old were recruited to the study during a follow-up visit to Mount Sinai Hospital’s food allergy clinic. Most of the families who completed the survey were single-income and had at least one other child.

Reasons behind the risk-taking behaviours were explored, with 11 percent of parents saying they exposed their child to food allergens because they didn’t have time to review ingredients on packaging. Seven percent reported cost as a barrier to finding food that was safe and affordable.

The study authors suggest that continued education and counselling are essential to improve food allergy management within the home, ensure better preparedness for allergy emergencies and address critical knowledge gaps or misconceptions.

Reference: Smith et al. 2017 The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology: In Practice. DOI: 10.1016/j.jaip.2017.12.012

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Additional reporting by Reuters.