Food allergy global problem in children
• In the last decade, the cases of food allergies have doubled and the number of hospitalisations caused by severe allergic reactions has increased 7-fold
• More awareness and education is needed to improve management of food allergies and anaphylaxis
– With more than million are suffering from allergies, food allergy is one of the most common allergic diseases. As the prevalence of food allergy is greater among children than adults, food allergy has been recognised as a major paediatric health problem in western countries. The number of hospital admissions for severe allergic reaction in children has increased 7-fold in the past 10 years .
“Food allergy is not a trivial disease. No cure has been found yet and the disease is so unpredictable that it often causes anxiety in patients and caregivers, leading to social exclusion because of the fear of eating dangerous foods by mistake. Only clear information on ingredients and disease management can help food allergy patients”.
Food allergy is a major public health problem: governments and the general public are expected to face increasing direct and indirect costs, due to its major effects on lifestyle and quality of life.
the increasing incidence and burden of food allergy and of severe allergic reactions such as anaphylaxis and calls on patients, healthcare professionals and pharmacists to familiarise themselves how to recognise early and manage these diseases.
“By focusing on education for food allergy prevention, early diagnosis and correct management, EAACI hopes to help patients and their families to better control their food allergy and improve their quality of life and to increase the resources allocated by the society to manage the allergy epidemic”, to translate best science into best practice.
Prompt recognition and management of severe allergic reactions are of utmost importance as such reactions can be fatal. Caregivers, teachers and parents should be provided with information on how to manage severe allergic reactions, including adrenaline auto-injectors and instructions on how and when to use it. It is crucial to better inform schools and restaurants staff so they can help patients avoid accidental exposure and make appropriate food choices.
Anaphylaxis is a severe generalised or systemic hypersensitivity reaction that is potentially fatal . It is characterised by its rapid onset and triggering respiratory or circulatory problems, generally associated to changes in the skin and mucous membranes. Food, medicines and insect stings are the three most important causes of anaphylaxis. In children, food is the most common cause. Drugs and hymenoptera venom are the most common causes of anaphylaxis in adults. Although considerably under-diagnosed, the epidemiological figures show an incidence rate of anaphylaxis in Europe ranging from 1.5 to 8 per 100,000 people/year, with an increase in cases of anaphylaxis in the last twenty years.