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Fatal anaphylaxis and food allergies

Fatal anaphylaxis and food allergies

It’s crucial to address the relative risk factors when it comes to childhood fatalities concerning food allergies and anaphylaxis. Research conducted by Imperial College London some years ago brought to light an important perspective: the statistical likelihood of a fatality due to anaphylaxis in comparison to other causes of death among children.

While discussing distressing possibilities might be uncomfortable, understanding these statistics can offer families a sense of perspective and reassurance. The research indicated that the probability of a child succumbing to fatal anaphylaxis due to a food allergy is significantly lower than other tragic events such as murder, fatalities in fires, or car accidents. This insight might provide useful context to families grappling with the anxieties of managing a child’s food allergies.

In clinical settings, some professionals have emphasised a thought-provoking analogy. They’ve highlighted that statistically, it might be more effective in saving lives to provide crash helmets to prevent car accident fatalities than to dispense EpiPens for anaphylaxis. Although this analogy may seem a little flippant, the context and accuracy of the statistical comparison are worth considering.

This comparison is not to downplay the importance of EpiPens or the severity of allergic reactions but can offer a sense of perspective and practical guidance in managing risks associated with childhood allergies while maintaining a balanced view of overall safety considerations.

It is important to note that the decision about whether it is appropriate to prescribe EpiPens for a child should be a thoughtful and collaborative process between healthcare professionals and the child’s family to ensure the best possible care and safety for the child. It is a very individual decision and needs to take into account a range of factors to work out what will fit best for the child and their family. This process is often referred to as shared decision making.

Allergy London’s Professor Adam Fox, together with Dr Nandinee Patel, Dr Ru-Xin Foong, Dr Paul Turner, and Professor Graham Roberts, have created a new leaflet co-designed with allergy charities and patient groups; its aim is to empower and assist families, caregivers, grandparents, and anyone responsible for the care of individuals with food allergies.

Read the new leaflet here

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