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1.  Health-related quality of life, assessed with a disease-specific questionnaire, in Swedish adults suffering from well-diagnosed food allergy to staple foods 
Background
Our aim was to investigate the factors that affect health related quality of life (HRQL) in adult Swedish food allergic patients objectively diagnosed with allergy to at least one of the staple foods cow’s milk, hen’s egg or wheat. The number of foods involved, the type and severity of symptoms, as well as concomitant allergic disorders were assessed.
Methods
The disease-specific food allergy quality of life questionnaire (FAQLQ-AF), developed within EuroPrevall, was utilized. The questionnaire had four domains: Allergen Avoidance and Dietary Restrictions (AADR), Emotional Impact (EI), Risk of Accidental Exposure (RAE) and Food Allergy related Health (FAH). Comparisons were made with the outcome of the generic questionnaire EuroQol Health Questionnaire, 5 Dimensions (EQ-5D). The patients were recruited at an outpatient allergy clinic, based on a convincing history of food allergy supplemented by analysis of specific IgE to the foods in question. Seventy-nine patients participated (28 males, 51 females, mean-age 41 years).
Results
The domain with the most negative impact on HRQL was AADR, assessing the patients’ experience of dietary restrictions. The domain with the least negative impact on HRQL was FAH, relating to health concerns due to the food allergy. One third of the patients had four concomitant allergic disorders, which had a negative impact on HRQL. Furthermore, asthma in combination with food allergy had a strong impact. Anaphylaxis, and particularly prescription of an epinephrine auto-injector, was associated with low HRQL. These effects were not seen using EQ-5D. Analyses of the symptoms revealed that oral allergy syndrome and cardiovascular symptoms had the greatest impact on HRQL. In contrast, no significant effect on HRQL was seen by the number of food allergies.
Conclusions
The FAQLQ-AF is a valid instrument, and more accurate among patients with allergy to staple foods in comparison to the commonly used generic EQ-5D. It adds important information on HRQL in food allergic adults. We found that the restrictions imposed on the patients due to the diet had the largest negative impact on HRQL. Both severity of the food allergy and the presence of concomitant allergic disorders had a profound impact on HRQL.
doi:10.1186/2045-7022-3-21
PMCID: PMC3702411  PMID: 23816063
Food allergy; Adults; Health-related quality of life; Instrument; Questionnaire
2.  Duration of a cow-milk exclusion diet worsens parents’ perception of quality of life in children with food allergies 
BMC Pediatrics  2013;13:203.
Background
In Italy, rigorous studies obtained with specific and validated questionnaires that explore the impact of exclusion diets on health-related quality of life (HRQoL) in children with food allergies are lacking. In this cross-sectional study, we wished to validate the Italian version of a disease-specific quality of life questionnaire, and assess the impact of exclusion diets on the HRQoL in a cohort of Italian children with IgE-mediated food allergies.
Methods
Children on an exclusion diet for ≥1 food were enrolled consecutively, and their parents completed the validated Italian version of the Food Allergy Quality of Life Questionnaire–Parent Form (FAQLQ-PF) and Food Allergy Independent Measure (FAIM).
Results
Ninety-six parents of children aged 0–12 years answered the FAQLQ–PF. The validity of the construct of the questionnaire was assessed by correlation between the FAQLQ–PF and FAIM–PF (r = 0.85). The Italian version of the FAQLQ had good internal consistency (Cronbach's α >0.70). Factors that mainly influenced the HRQoL were older age, severity of food allergy, and the duration of the cow milk-exclusion diet.
Conclusions
The FAQLQ–PF, validated in Italian, is a reliable instrument. Worse QoL scores were observed among older children, those with severe systemic reactions, and those with a prolonged cow milk-free diet. It is very important to consider the QoL assessment as an integral part of food-allergy management. These results emphasize the need to administer exclusion diets only for the necessary time and the importance of assessment of the HRQoL in these patients.
doi:10.1186/1471-2431-13-203
PMCID: PMC4233620  PMID: 24308381
Quality of life; Food allergy; Questionnaire; Diet; Milk; Egg; Food-related anxiety; Italian
3.  Serious Shortcomings in the Management of Children with Anaphylaxis in Scottish Schools 
PLoS Medicine  2006;3(8):e326.
Background
The United Kingdom incidence of anaphylaxis has increased very sharply over the last decade, with the highest rates of hospital admissions occurring in school-aged children. This raises concerns about the extent to which schools are aware of approaches to the prevention and treatment of anaphylaxis.
Methods and Findings
We undertook a national postal survey of 250 Scottish schools enquiring about approaches to managing children considered to be at risk of anaphylaxis. We obtained responses from 148 (60%) schools, 90 (61%) of which reported having at least one at risk child. Most (80%) schools with children considered to be at risk reported having personalised care plans and invariably reported having at least one member of staff trained in the emergency treatment of anaphylaxis. Access to adrenaline was available on-site in 97% of these schools. However, significantly fewer schools without children considered to be at risk reported having a trained member of staff (48%, p < 0.001), with access to adrenaline being very poor (12%, p < 0.001). Overall, 59% of respondents did not feel confident in their school's ability to respond in an emergency situation.
Conclusions
Most schools with children considered to be at risk of anaphylaxis report using personal care plans and having a member of staff trained in the use of, and with access to, adrenaline. The picture is, however, less encouraging in schools without known at risk children, both in relation to staff training and access to adrenaline. The majority of schools with at risk children have poorly developed strategies for preventing food-triggered anaphylaxis reactions. There is a need for detailed national guidelines for all schools, which the Scottish Executive must now ensure are developed and implemented.
Schools whose officials know that some of their pupils have serious allergies are often prepared to deal with emergencies, but many don't have good plans for exposure prevention. When there is no knowledge of specific pupils at risk, neither preparedness nor prevention efforts are widespread.
Editors' Summary
Background.
Anaphylaxis is a severe allergic reaction that can cause a drop in blood pressure and swelling of the body tissues (swelling of the neck and throat and narrowing of the airways can make it hard to breathe). The reaction can be triggered by foods, such as peanuts or eggs, or by bee stings, natural latex (rubber), and certain drugs such as penicillin. Foods are the most common trigger in children. In the United Kingdom, thousands of people develop anaphylaxis each year, and the number appears to be increasing. If anaphylaxis is severe, a patient will need to be hospitalized, and the highest risk of hospitalization is in school-aged children. About 20 people die each year in the United Kingdom from anaphylaxis. Anaphylaxis can develop both in people known to have a tendency (risk) of getting the condition and in those with no known risk.
Why Was This Study Done?
The researchers wanted to find out how many school children there were in Scotland with a known risk of developing anaphylaxis. They also wanted to know how many schools were taking steps to minimize these children's risk of getting anaphylaxis during school hours (the risk can be reduced, for example, by prohibiting children from sharing food and eating utensils). Finally, they wanted to find out how many schools had the necessary equipment and trained staff to treat a child that develops anaphylaxis on site.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers sent a questionnaire in the mail to 250 Scottish schools. They received replies from 148 schools, of which 90 reported having at least one child with a known risk of developing anaphylaxis. Most of the schools (80%) that had children at risk had at least one staff member trained to treat anaphylaxis, and 97% of these schools had the drug adrenaline (epinephrine) on site, which is a lifesaving medication for treating anaphylaxis. But many of these schools were doing poorly at reducing the risk of anaphylaxis—for example, only one in three of these schools banned the sharing of eating utensils. Another worrying finding was that among the 58 schools that did not have children known to be at risk of anaphylaxis, less than half had a trained member of staff, and only about one in eight of these schools had adrenaline on site.
What Do These Findings Mean?
It is reassuring that most schools in Scotland that have children known to be at risk of anaphylaxis are well equipped to deal with this emergency if it occurs. But many of these schools are not doing enough to reduce the risk of anaphylaxis occurring. It is worrying that schools that don't have children known to be at risk are often very poorly equipped to deal with anaphylaxis. One weakness of this study is that 102 schools never replied to the questionnaire, so we can't know how well prepared these schools are for dealing with anaphylaxis. Nevertheless, the study suggests that there needs to be detailed guidance for all schools in Scotland on preventing and treating anaphylaxis.
Additional Information.
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.0030326.
NHS Direct page on anaphylaxis
MedlinePlus page on anaphylaxis
Mayo Clinic page on anaphylaxis
Wikipedia entry on anaphylaxis (note: Wikipedia is a free Internet encyclopedia that anyone can edit)
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.0030326
PMCID: PMC1551918  PMID: 16933965
4.  A global survey of changing patterns of food allergy burden in children 
While food allergies and eczema are among the most common chronic non-communicable diseases in children in many countries worldwide, quality data on the burden of these diseases is lacking, particularly in developing countries. This 2012 survey was performed to collect information on existing data on the global patterns and prevalence of food allergy by surveying all the national member societies of the World Allergy Organization, and some of their neighbouring countries. Data were collected from 89 countries, including published data, and changes in the health care burden of food allergy. More than half of the countries surveyed (52/89) did not have any data on food allergy prevalence. Only 10% (9/89) of countries had accurate food allergy prevalence data, based on oral food challenges (OFC). The remaining countries (23/89) had data largely based on parent-reporting of a food allergy diagnosis or symptoms, which is recognised to overestimate the prevalence of food allergy. Based on more accurate measures, the prevalence of clinical (OFC proven) food allergy in preschool children in developed countries is now as high as 10%. In large and rapidly emerging societies of Asia, such as China, where there are documented increases in food allergy, the prevalence of OFC-proven food allergy is now around 7% in pre-schoolers, comparable to the reported prevalence in European regions. While food allergy appears to be increasing in both developed and developing countries in the last 10–15 years, there is a lack of quality comparative data. This survey also highlights inequities in paediatric allergy services, availability of adrenaline auto-injectors and standardised National Anaphylaxis Action plans. In conclusion, there remains a need to gather more accurate data on the prevalence of food allergy in many developed and developing countries to better anticipate and address the rising community and health service burden of food allergy.
doi:10.1186/1939-4551-6-21
PMCID: PMC3879010  PMID: 24304599
Food allergy; Allergic disease; Allergy epidemic; Allergy prevention; Food allergens
5.  Peanut Allergen Threshold Study (PATS): validation of eliciting doses using a novel single-dose challenge protocol 
Background
The eliciting dose (ED) for a peanut allergic reaction in 5% of the peanut allergic population, the ED05, is 1.5 mg of peanut protein. This ED05 was derived from oral food challenges (OFC) that use graded, incremental doses administered at fixed time intervals. Individual patients’ threshold doses were used to generate population dose-distribution curves using probability distributions from which the ED05 was then determined. It is important to clinically validate that this dose is predictive of the allergenic response in a further unselected group of peanut-allergic individuals.
Methods/Aims
This is a multi-centre study involving three national level referral and teaching centres. (Cork University Hospital, Ireland, Royal Children’s Hospital Melbourne, Australia and Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, U.S.A.) The study is now in process and will continue to run until all centres have recruited 125 participates in each respective centre.
A total of 375 participants, aged 1–18 years will be recruited during routine Allergy appointments in the centres. The aim is to assess the precision of the predicted ED05 using a single dose (6 mg peanut = 1.5 mg of peanut protein) in the form of a cookie. Validated Food Allergy related Quality of Life Questionnaires-(FAQLQ) will be self-administered prior to OFC and 1 month after challenge to assess the impact of a single dose OFC on FAQL. Serological and cell based in vitro studies will be performed.
Conclusion
The validation of the ED05 threshold for allergic reactions in peanut allergic subjects has potential value for public health measures. The single dose OFC, based upon the statistical dose-distribution analysis of past challenge trials, promises an efficient approach to identify the most highly sensitive patients within any given food-allergic population.
doi:10.1186/1710-1492-9-35
PMCID: PMC3850217  PMID: 24028324
Eliciting dose (ED); Food Allergy related Quality of Life Questionnaires-(FAQLQ); Single dose; Peanut thresholds; Oral Food Challenges (OFC); Voluntary Incidental Trace Allergen Labelling (VITAL); Peanut Allergen Threshold Study (PATS)
6.  International consensus on (ICON) anaphylaxis 
ICON: Anaphylaxis provides a unique perspective on the principal evidence-based anaphylaxis guidelines developed and published independently from 2010 through 2014 by four allergy/immunology organizations. These guidelines concur with regard to the clinical features that indicate a likely diagnosis of anaphylaxis -- a life-threatening generalized or systemic allergic or hypersensitivity reaction.
They also concur about prompt initial treatment with intramuscular injection of epinephrine (adrenaline) in the mid-outer thigh, positioning the patient supine (semi-reclining if dyspneic or vomiting), calling for help, and when indicated, providing supplemental oxygen, intravenous fluid resuscitation and cardiopulmonary resuscitation, along with concomitant monitoring of vital signs and oxygenation. Additionally, they concur that H1-antihistamines, H2-antihistamines, and glucocorticoids are not initial medications of choice.
For self-management of patients at risk of anaphylaxis in community settings, they recommend carrying epinephrine auto-injectors and personalized emergency action plans, as well as follow-up with a physician (ideally an allergy/immunology specialist) to help prevent anaphylaxis recurrences.
ICON: Anaphylaxis describes unmet needs in anaphylaxis, noting that although epinephrine in 1 mg/mL ampules is available worldwide, other essentials, including supplemental oxygen, intravenous fluid resuscitation, and epinephrine auto-injectors are not universally available.
ICON: Anaphylaxis proposes a comprehensive international research agenda that calls for additional prospective studies of anaphylaxis epidemiology, patient risk factors and co-factors, triggers, clinical criteria for diagnosis, randomized controlled trials of therapeutic interventions, and measures to prevent anaphylaxis recurrences. It also calls for facilitation of global collaborations in anaphylaxis research.
In addition to confirming the alignment of major anaphylaxis guidelines, ICON: Anaphylaxis adds value by including summary tables and citing 130 key references. It is published as an information resource about anaphylaxis for worldwide use by healthcare professionals, academics, policy-makers, patients, caregivers, and the public.
doi:10.1186/1939-4551-7-9
PMCID: PMC4038846  PMID: 24920969
Anaphylaxis; Acute systemic allergic reaction; Epinephrine (adrenaline); H1-antihistamines; H2-antihistamines; Glucocorticoids; Food allergy; Venom allergy; Drug allergy; Exercise-induced anaphylaxis; Idiopathic anaphylaxis
7.  The diagnosis of food allergy: protocol for a systematic review 
Background
The literature on diagnostic tests for food allergy currently lacks clear consensus regarding the accuracy and safety of different investigative approaches. The European Academy of Allergy and Clinical Immunology is in the process of developing its Guideline for Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis, and this systematic review is one of seven inter-linked evidence syntheses that are being undertaken in order to provide a state-of-the-art synopsis of the current evidence base in relation to epidemiology, prevention, diagnosis and clinical management, and impact on quality of life, which will be used to inform the formulation of clinical recommendations. The aim of this systematic review will be to assess the diagnostic accuracy of tests aimed at supporting the clinical diagnosis of IgE-mediated food allergy.
Methods
The following databases from inception to September 30, 2012 will be searched for studies of diagnostic tests: Cochrane Library (Wiley&Sons); MEDLINE (OVID); Embase (OVID); CINAHL (Ebscohost); ISI Web of Science (Thomson Web of Knowledge); TRIP Database (web http://www.tripdatabase.com); and Clinicaltrials.gov (NIH web). These database searches will be supplemented by contacting an international panel of experts. Studies evaluating APT, SPT, specific-IgE, and component specific-IgE in participants of any age with suspected food allergy will be included. The reference standard will be DBPCFC in at least 50% of the participants. Studies will be quality assessed by using the QUADAS-2 instrument. We will report summary statistics such as sensitivity, specificity, and/or likelihood ratios. We will use the hierarchical summary ROC (HSROC) model to summarize the accuracy of each test and to compare the accuracy of two or more tests.
Discussion
Decisions on which tests to use need to be guided by availability of tests, populations being cared for, risks, financial considerations and test properties. This review will examine papers from around the world, covering children and adults with suspected food allergy in varying populations and concentrated on four type of tests: APT, SPT, specific-IgEs, and component specific-IgEs.
doi:10.1186/2045-7022-3-18
PMCID: PMC3679851  PMID: 23742215
Food allergy; IgE-mediated; Diagnosis; Diagnostic tests
8.  Food allergy knowledge, attitudes and beliefs: Focus groups of parents, physicians and the general public 
BMC Pediatrics  2008;8:36.
Background
Food allergy prevalence is increasing in US children. Presently, the primary means of preventing potentially fatal reactions are avoidance of allergens, prompt recognition of food allergy reactions, and knowledge about food allergy reaction treatments. Focus groups were held as a preliminary step in the development of validated survey instruments to assess food allergy knowledge, attitudes, and beliefs of parents, physicians, and the general public.
Methods
Eight focus groups were conducted between January and July of 2006 in the Chicago area with parents of children with food allergy (3 groups), physicians (3 groups), and the general public (2 groups). A constant comparative method was used to identify the emerging themes which were then grouped into key domains of food allergy knowledge, attitudes, and beliefs.
Results
Parents of children with food allergy had solid fundamental knowledge but had concerns about primary care physicians' knowledge of food allergy, diagnostic approaches, and treatment practices. The considerable impact of children's food allergies on familial quality of life was articulated. Physicians had good basic knowledge of food allergy but differed in their approach to diagnosis and advice about starting solids and breastfeeding. The general public had wide variation in knowledge about food allergy with many misconceptions of key concepts related to prevalence, definition, and triggers of food allergy.
Conclusion
Appreciable food allergy knowledge gaps exist, especially among physicians and the general public. The quality of life for children with food allergy and their families is significantly affected.
doi:10.1186/1471-2431-8-36
PMCID: PMC2564918  PMID: 18803842
9.  Active or Passive Exposure to Tobacco Smoking and Allergic Rhinitis, Allergic Dermatitis, and Food Allergy in Adults and Children: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis 
PLoS Medicine  2014;11(3):e1001611.
In a systematic review and meta-analysis, Bahi Takkouche and colleagues examine the associations between exposure to tobacco smoke and allergic disorders in children and adults.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Background
Allergic rhinitis, allergic dermatitis, and food allergy are extremely common diseases, especially among children, and are frequently associated to each other and to asthma. Smoking is a potential risk factor for these conditions, but so far, results from individual studies have been conflicting. The objective of this study was to examine the evidence for an association between active smoking (AS) or passive exposure to secondhand smoke and allergic conditions.
Methods and Findings
We retrieved studies published in any language up to June 30th, 2013 by systematically searching Medline, Embase, the five regional bibliographic databases of the World Health Organization, and ISI-Proceedings databases, by manually examining the references of the original articles and reviews retrieved, and by establishing personal contact with clinical researchers. We included cohort, case-control, and cross-sectional studies reporting odds ratio (OR) or relative risk (RR) estimates and confidence intervals of smoking and allergic conditions, first among the general population and then among children.
We retrieved 97 studies on allergic rhinitis, 91 on allergic dermatitis, and eight on food allergy published in 139 different articles. When all studies were analyzed together (showing random effects model results and pooled ORs expressed as RR), allergic rhinitis was not associated with active smoking (pooled RR, 1.02 [95% CI 0.92–1.15]), but was associated with passive smoking (pooled RR 1.10 [95% CI 1.06–1.15]). Allergic dermatitis was associated with both active (pooled RR, 1.21 [95% CI 1.14–1.29]) and passive smoking (pooled RR, 1.07 [95% CI 1.03–1.12]). In children and adolescent, allergic rhinitis was associated with active (pooled RR, 1.40 (95% CI 1.24–1.59) and passive smoking (pooled RR, 1.09 [95% CI 1.04–1.14]). Allergic dermatitis was associated with active (pooled RR, 1.36 [95% CI 1.17–1.46]) and passive smoking (pooled RR, 1.06 [95% CI 1.01–1.11]). Food allergy was associated with SHS (1.43 [1.12–1.83]) when cohort studies only were examined, but not when all studies were combined.
The findings are limited by the potential for confounding and bias given that most of the individual studies used a cross-sectional design. Furthermore, the studies showed a high degree of heterogeneity and the exposure and outcome measures were assessed by self-report, which may increase the potential for misclassification.
Conclusions
We observed very modest associations between smoking and some allergic diseases among adults. Among children and adolescents, both active and passive exposure to SHS were associated with a modest increased risk for allergic diseases, and passive smoking was associated with an increased risk for food allergy. Additional studies with detailed measurement of exposure and better case definition are needed to further explore the role of smoking in allergic diseases.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Background
The immune system protects the human body from viruses, bacteria, and other pathogens. Whenever a pathogen enters the body, immune system cells called T lymphocytes recognize specific molecules on its surface and release chemical messengers that recruit and activate other types of immune cells, which then attack the pathogen. Sometimes, however, the immune system responds to harmless materials (for example, pollen; scientists call these materials allergens) and triggers an allergic disease such as allergic rhinitis (inflammation of the inside of the nose; hay fever is a type of allergic rhinitis), allergic dermatitis (also known as eczema, a disease characterized by dry, itchy patches on the skin), and food allergy. Recent studies suggest that all these allergic (atopic) diseases are part of a continuous state called the “atopic march” in which individuals develop allergic diseases in a specific sequence that starts with allergic dermatitis during infancy, and progresses to food allergy, allergic rhinitis, and finally asthma (inflammation of the airways).
Why Was This Study Done?
Allergic diseases are extremely common, particularly in children. Allergic rhinitis alone affects 10%–30% of the world's population and up to 40% of children in some countries. Moreover, allergic diseases are becoming increasingly common. Allergic diseases affect the quality of life of patients and are financially costly to both patients and health systems. It is important, therefore, to identify the factors that cause or potentiate their development. One potential risk factor for allergic diseases is active or passive exposure to tobacco smoke. In some countries up to 80% of children are exposed to second-hand smoke so, from a public health point of view, it would be useful to know whether exposure to tobacco smoke is associated with the development of allergic diseases. Here, the researchers undertake a systematic review (a study that uses predefined criteria to identify all the research on a given topic) and a meta-analysis (a statistical approach for combining the results of several studies) to investigate this issue.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers identified 196 observational studies (investigations that observe outcomes in populations without trying to affect these outcomes in any way) that examined the association between smoke exposure and allergic rhinitis, allergic dermatitis, or food allergy. When all studies were analyzed together, allergic rhinitis was not associated with active smoking but was slightly associated with exposure to second-hand smoke. Specifically, compared to people not exposed to second-hand smoke, the pooled relative risk (RR) of allergic rhinitis among people exposed to second-hand smoke was 1.10 (an RR of greater than 1 indicates an increased risk of disease development in an exposed population compared to an unexposed population). Allergic dermatitis was associated with both active smoking (RR = 1.21) and exposure to second-hand smoke (RR = 1.07). In the populations of children and adolescents included in the studies, allergic rhinitis was associated with both active smoking and exposure to second-hand smoke (RRs of 1.40 and 1.09, respectively), as was allergic dermatitis (RRs of 1.36 and 1.06, respectively). Finally food allergy was associated with exposure to second-hand smoke (RR = 1.43) when cohort studies (a specific type of observational study) only were examined but not when all the studies were combined.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings provide limited evidence for a weak association between smoke exposure and allergic disease in adults but suggest that both active and passive smoking are associated with a modestly increased risk of allergic diseases in children and adolescents. The accuracy of these findings may be affected by the use of questionnaires to assess smoke exposure and allergic disease development in most of the studies in the meta-analysis and by the possibility that individuals exposed to smoke may have shared other characteristics that were actually responsible for their increased risk of allergic diseases. To shed more light on the role of smoking in allergic diseases, additional studies are needed that accurately measure exposure and outcomes. However, the present findings suggest that, in countries where many people smoke, 14% and 13% of allergic rhinitis and allergic dermatitis, respectively, among children may be attributable to active smoking. Thus, the elimination of active smoking among children and adolescents could prevent one in seven cases of allergic rhinitis and one in eight cases of allergic dermatitis in such countries.
Additional Information
Please access these websites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1001611.
The UK National Health Service Choices website provides information about allergic rhinitis, hay fever (including personal stories), allergic dermatitis (including personal stories), and food allergy (including personal stories)
The US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease provides information about allergic diseases
The UK not-for-profit organization Allergy UK provides information about all aspects of allergic diseases and a description of the atopic march
MedlinePlus encyclopedia has pages on allergic rhinitis and allergic dermatitis (in English and Spanish)
MedlinePlus provides links to further resources about allergies, eczema, and food allergy (in English and Spanish)
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001611
PMCID: PMC3949681  PMID: 24618794
10.  The effectiveness of telemedicine for paediatric retrieval consultations: rationale and study design for a pragmatic multicentre randomised controlled trial 
Background
In many health systems, specialist services for critically ill children are typically regionalised or centralised. Studies have shown that high-risk paediatric patients have improved survival when managed in specialist centres and that volume of cases is a predictor of care quality. In acute cases where distance and time impede access to specialist care, clinical advice may be provided remotely by telephone. Emergency retrieval services, attended by medical and nursing staff may be used to transport patients to specialist centres. Even with the best quality retrieval services, stabilisation of the patient and transport logistics may delay evacuation to definitive care. Several studies have examined the use of telemedicine for providing specialist consultations for critically ill children. However, no studies have yet formally examined the clinical effectiveness and economic implications of using telemedicine in the context of paediatric patient retrieval.
Methods/Design
The study is a pragmatic, multicentre randomised controlled trial running over 24 months which will compare the use of telemedicine with the use of the telephone for paediatric retrieval consultations between four referring hospitals and a tertiary paediatric intensive care unit. We aim to recruit 160 children for whom a specialist retrieval consultation is required. The primary outcome measure is stabilisation time (time spent on site at the referring hospital by the retrieval team) adjusted for initial risk. Secondary outcome measures are change in patient’s physiological status (repeated measure, two time points) scored using the Children’s Emergency Warning Tool; change in diagnosis (repeated measure taken at three time points); change in destination of retrieved patients at the tertiary hospital (general ward or paediatric intensive care unit); retrieval decision, and length of stay in the Paediatric Intensive Care Unit for retrieved patients. The trial has been approved by the Human Research Ethics Committees of Children’s Health Services Queensland and The University of Queensland, Australia.
Discussion
Health services are adopting telemedicine, however formal evidence to support its use in paediatric acute care is limited. Generalisable evidence is required to inform clinical use and health system policy relating to the effectiveness and economic implications of the use in telemedicine in paediatric retrieval.
Trial registration
Australian and New Zealand Clinical Trials Registry ACTRN12612000156886.
doi:10.1186/s12913-014-0546-9
PMCID: PMC4232675  PMID: 25381774
Paediatrics; Paediatric intensive care; Paediatric critical care; Telemedicine; Transport
11.  World Allergy Organization Guidelines for the Assessment and Management of Anaphylaxis 
Abstract:
The illustrated World Allergy Organization (WAO) Anaphylaxis Guidelines were created in response to absence of global guidelines for anaphylaxis. Uniquely, before they were developed, lack of worldwide availability of essentials for the diagnosis and treatment of anaphylaxis was documented. They incorporate contributions from more than 100 allergy/immunology specialists on 6 continents. Recommendations are based on the best evidence available, supported by references published to the end of December 2010. The Guidelines review patient risk factors for severe or fatal anaphylaxis, co-factors that amplify anaphylaxis, and anaphylaxis in vulnerable patients, including pregnant women, infants, the elderly, and those with cardiovascular disease. They focus on the supreme importance of making a prompt clinical diagnosis and on the basic initial treatment that is urgently needed and should be possible even in a low resource environment. This involves having a written emergency protocol and rehearsing it regularly; then, as soon as anaphylaxis is diagnosed, promptly and simultaneously calling for help, injecting epinephrine (adrenaline) intramuscularly, and placing the patient on the back or in a position of comfort with the lower extremities elevated. When indicated, additional critically important steps include administering supplemental oxygen and maintaining the airway, establishing intravenous access and giving fluid resuscitation, and initiating cardiopulmonary resuscitation with continuous chest compressions. Vital signs and cardiorespiratory status should be monitored frequently and regularly (preferably, continuously). The Guidelines briefly review management of anaphylaxis refractory to basic initial treatment. They also emphasize preparation of the patient for self-treatment of anaphylaxis recurrences in the community, confirmation of anaphylaxis triggers, and prevention of recurrences through trigger avoidance and immunomodulation. Novel strategies for dissemination and implementation are summarized. A global agenda for anaphylaxis research is proposed.
doi:10.1097/WOX.0b013e318211496c
PMCID: PMC3500036  PMID: 23268454
anaphylaxis; risk factors; clinical diagnosis; epinephrine (adrenaline); antihistamines; glucocorticoids
12.  A Randomised Controlled Trial of Ion-Exchange Water Softeners for the Treatment of Eczema in Children 
PLoS Medicine  2011;8(2):e1000395.
In a randomized trial evaluating the effect of installation of ion-exchange water softeners in the households of children with eczema, the researchers found no evidence of improvement in eczema severity as compared to usual care in the study population.
Background
Epidemiological studies and anecdotal reports suggest a possible link between household use of hard water and atopic eczema. We sought to test whether installation of an ion-exchange water softener in the home can improve eczema in children.
Methods and Findings
This was an observer-blind randomised trial involving 336 children (aged 6 months to 16 years) with moderate/severe atopic eczema. All lived in hard water areas (≥200 mg/l calcium carbonate). Participants were randomised to either installation of an ion-exchange water softener plus usual eczema care, or usual eczema care alone. The primary outcome was change in eczema severity (Six Area Six Sign Atopic Dermatitis Score, SASSAD) at 12 weeks, measured by research nurses who were blinded to treatment allocation. Analysis was based on the intent-to-treat population. Eczema severity improved for both groups during the trial. The mean change in SASSAD at 12 weeks was −5.0 (20% improvement) for the water softener group and −5.7 (22% improvement) for the usual care group (mean difference 0.66, 95% confidence interval −1.37 to 2.69, p = 0.53). No between-group differences were noted in the use of topical corticosteroids or calcineurin inhibitors.
Conclusions
Water softeners provided no additional benefit to usual care in this study population. Small but statistically significant differences were found in some secondary outcomes as reported by parents, but it is likely that such improvements were the result of response bias, since participants were aware of their treatment allocation. A detailed report for this trial is also available at http://www.hta.ac.uk.
Trial registration
Current Controlled Trials ISRCTN71423189
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Background
Eczema (sometimes referred to as atopic dermatitis) is a chronic, inflammatory skin condition that affects about 20% of school children in developed countries. Eczema is often associated with other conditions, such as asthma, hay-fever and food allergy and can cause intractable itching leading to thickened skin, bleeding, secondary infection, sleep loss, poor concentration, and psychological distress. Current topical treatments for eczema have side effects, for example, topical corticosteroids may cause skin thinning and the long term safety of topical tacrolimus and pimecrolimus has yet to be determined. Therefore, there is a lot of interest in exploring the benefits of non-pharmacological treatments that have no apparent side effects.
Water hardness (≥200 mg/l calcium carbonate) has become a recent focus of attention.
Why Was This Study Done?
In addition to some epidemiological evidence linking increased water hardness with increased eczema prevalence, there have been widespread anecdotal reports of improvement in the skin of children with eczema when the family has moved from a hard to a soft water area. In addition, some patients report how their eczema symptoms have rapidly improved following the installation of a water softener. However, to date there have been no relevant published trials evaluating the potential benefit of water softeners for eczema. Given the lack of evidence, the high public interest in their potential benefit and the low risk of adverse effects, the researcher conducted a study to assess whether the installation of an ion-exchange water softener reduces the severity of eczema in children with moderate to severe eczema.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers did a pilot study that showed that it was not possible to blind participants to their treatment allocation using real and “dummy” water softener units because the softened water produced more soap suds. So the researchers conducted an observer-blind randomised controlled trial in which they used trained research nurses to conduct an objective assessment of every participant's skin. The researchers recruited 336 children who all lived in hard water areas in England. Eligible children were aged 6 months to 16 years who had a diagnosis of eczema (in line with the UK working party's diagnostic criteria) and an eczema severity score of 10 or over. Participants were randomised to either installation of an ion-exchange water softener plus usual eczema care, or usual eczema care alone. Trained research nurses examined each child's skin at baseline and at 6, 12, and 16 weeks to record changes in eczema severity. The researchers also analysed any changes in symptoms over the study period such as, sleep loss and itchiness, the amount of topical corticosteroid/calcineurin inhibitors used, the Dermatitis Family Impact questionnaire and the health related Quality of Life (children's version).
Although both treatment groups improved in disease severity during the course of the trial, the researchers found no difference between the treatment groups in the main outcome—eczema severity. Similar finding were found for night movement (scratching) and the use of topical medications (creams/ointments applied to the skin), both of which were blinded to intervention status. Nevertheless, parents in the trial did report small health benefits, and just over 50% chose to buy the water softener at the end of the trial because of perceived improvements in the eczema and the wider benefits of water softeners. It is unclear how much of this effect can be explained by prior belief in the effectiveness of the water softeners for the treatment of eczema.
What Do These Findings Mean?
The results of this study suggest that water softeners provide no additional clinical benefit to usual care in children with eczema so the use of ion-exchange water softeners for the treatment of moderate to severe eczema in children should not be recommended. However, it is up to each family to decide whether or not the wider benefits of installing a water softener in their home are sufficient to consider buying one.
Additional Information
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1000395.
The UK's NHS presents information on eczema for patients and families
MedlinePlus gives information for patients, families, and caregivers on eczema and other similar conditions
The National Eczema Society in the UK provides information and a helpline for eczema patients, families, and caregivers
Medinfo provides information for eczema patients
Wikipedia has more information about water softening (note that Wikipedia is a free online encyclopedia that anyone can edit; available in several languages)
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1000395
PMCID: PMC3039684  PMID: 21358807
13.  IgE mediated food allergy in Korean children: focused on plant food allergy 
Asia Pacific Allergy  2013;3(1):15-22.
Food allergy (FA) is a worldwide problem, with increasing prevalence in many countries, and it poses a clearly increasing health problem in Korea. In Korea, as a part of International Study of Asthma and Allergy in Childhood (ISAAC), a series of nation-wide population studies for prevalence of allergic disease in children were carried out, with the Korean version of ISAAC in 1995, 2000, and 2010. From the survey, the twelve-month prevalence of FA showed no significant differences from 1995 to 2000 in both age groups (6-12 years-old, 6.5% in 1995 and 5.7% in 2000; 12-15 year-olds, 7.4% in 1995 and 8.6% in 2000). The mean lifetime prevalence of FA which had ever been diagnosed by medical doctor was 4.7% in 6-12 year-olds and 5.1% in 12-15 year-olds respectively in 2000. In Korean children, the major causes of FA are almost same as in other countries, although the order prevalence may vary, a prime example of which being that peanut and tree nut allergies are not prevalent, as in western countries. Both pediatric emergency department (ED) visits and deaths relating to food induced anaphylaxis have also increased in western countries. From a study which based on data from the Korean Health Insurance Review and Assessment Service (KHIRA) from 2001 to 2007, the incidence of anaphylaxis under the age of 19 was 0.7-1 per 100,000 person-year, and foods (24.9%) were the most commonly identified cause of childhood anaphylaxis. In another epidemiologic study, involving 78889 patients aged 0-18 years who visited the EDs of 9 hospitals during June 2008 to Mar 2009, the incidence of food related anaphylaxis was 4.56 per 10,000 pediatric ED visits. From these studies, common causes of food related anaphylaxis were seafood, buckwheat, cow's milk, fruits, peanut and tree nuts. Although systematic epidemiologic studies have not reported on the matter, recently, plant foods related allergy has increased in Korean children. Among 804 children with moderate to severe atopic dermatitis, we reveals that the peanut sensitization rate in Korea reaches 18%, and that, when sensitized to peanut, patients showed a significant tendency to have co-sensitization with house dust mites, egg white, wheat, and soybean. The higher specific IgE to peanut was related to the likelihood of the patient developing severe systemic reactions. In another study, based on the data analysis of 69 patients under 4 years of age who had suspected peanut and tree nut allergy, 22 (31.9%) were sensitized to walnut (>0.35 kU/L, 0.45-27.4 kU/L) and 6 (8.7%) experienced anaphylaxis due to a small amount of walnut exposure. Furthermore, in this review, clinical and immunological studies on plant food allergies, such as buckwheat allergy, rice allergy, barley allergy, and kiwi fruit allergy, in Korean children are discussed.
doi:10.5415/apallergy.2013.3.1.15
PMCID: PMC3563016  PMID: 23403730
Food allergy; Korean children; Anaphylaxis; Plant food allergy
14.  Assessing the efficacy of oral immunotherapy for the desensitisation of peanut allergy in children (STOP II): a phase 2 randomised controlled trial 
Lancet  2014;383(9925):1297-1304.
Summary
Background
Small studies suggest peanut oral immunotherapy (OIT) might be effective in the treatment of peanut allergy. We aimed to establish the efficacy of OIT for the desensitisation of children with allergy to peanuts.
Methods
We did a randomised controlled crossover trial to compare the efficacy of active OIT (using characterised peanut flour; protein doses of 2–800 mg/day) with control (peanut avoidance, the present standard of care) at the NIHR/Wellcome Trust Cambridge Clinical Research Facility (Cambridge, UK). Randomisation (1:1) was by use of an audited online system; group allocation was not masked. Eligible participants were aged 7–16 years with an immediate hypersensitivity reaction after peanut ingestion, positive skin prick test to peanuts, and positive by double-blind placebo-controlled food challenge (DBPCFC). We excluded participants if they had a major chronic illness, if the care provider or a present household member had suspected or diagnosed allergy to peanuts, or if there was an unwillingness or inability to comply with study procedures. Our primary outcome was desensitisation, defined as negative peanut challenge (1400 mg protein in DBPCFC) at 6 months (first phase). Control participants underwent OIT during the second phase, with subsequent DBPCFC. Immunological parameters and disease-specific quality-of-life scores were measured. Analysis was by intention to treat. Fisher's exact test was used to compare the proportion of those with desensitisation to peanut after 6 months between the active and control group at the end of the first phase. This trial is registered with Current Controlled Trials, number ISRCTN62416244.
Findings
The primary outcome, desensitisation, was recorded for 62% (24 of 39 participants; 95% CI 45–78) in the active group and none of the control group after the first phase (0 of 46; 95% CI 0–9; p<0·001). 84% (95% CI 70–93) of the active group tolerated daily ingestion of 800 mg protein (equivalent to roughly five peanuts). Median increase in peanut threshold after OIT was 1345 mg (range 45–1400; p<0·001) or 25·5 times (range 1·82–280; p<0·001). After the second phase, 54% (95% CI 35–72) tolerated 1400 mg challenge (equivalent to roughly ten peanuts) and 91% (79–98) tolerated daily ingestion of 800 mg protein. Quality-of-life scores improved (decreased) after OIT (median change −1·61; p<0·001). Side-effects were mild in most participants. Gastrointestinal symptoms were, collectively, most common (31 participants with nausea, 31 with vomiting, and one with diarrhoea), then oral pruritus after 6·3% of doses (76 participants) and wheeze after 0·41% of doses (21 participants). Intramuscular adrenaline was used after 0·01% of doses (one participant).
Interpretation
OIT successfully induced desensitisation in most children within the study population with peanut allergy of any severity, with a clinically meaningful increase in peanut threshold. Quality of life improved after intervention and there was a good safety profile. Immunological changes corresponded with clinical desensitisation. Further studies in wider populations are recommended; peanut OIT should not be done in non-specialist settings, but it is effective and well tolerated in the studied age group.
Funding
MRC-NIHR partnership.
doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(13)62301-6
PMCID: PMC4255069  PMID: 24485709
15.  What do school personnel know, think and feel about food allergies? 
Background
The incidence of food allergy is such that most schools will be attended by at least one food allergic child, obliging school personnel to cope with cases at risk of severe allergic reactions. Schools need to know about food allergy and anaphylaxis management to ensure the personal safety of an increasing number of students. The aim of this study was to investigate Italian school teachers and principals’ knowledge, perceptions and feelings concerning food allergy and anaphylaxis, to deeply understand how to effectively support schools to manage a severely allergic child. In addition a further assessment of the impact of multidisciplinary courses on participants was undertaken.
Methods
1184 school teachers and principals attended courses on food allergy and anaphylaxis management at school were questioned before and after their course. Descriptive and inferential statistics were used to analyze the resulting data.
Results
Participants tended to overestimate the prevalence of food allergy; 79.3% were able to identify the foods most likely involved and 90.8% knew the most frequent symptoms. 81.9% were familiar with the typical symptoms of anaphylaxis but, while the majority (65.4%) knew that “adrenaline” is the best medication for anaphylaxis, only 34.5% knew indications of using adrenaline in children. 48.5% thoroughly understood dietary exclusion. School personnel considered that food allergic students could have social difficulties (10.2%) and/or emotional consequences (37.2%) because of their condition. “Concern” was the emotion that most respondents (66.9%) associated with food allergy. At the end of the course, the number of correct answers to the test increased significantly.
Conclusions
Having adequately trained and cooperative school personnel is crucial to significantly reduce emergencies and fatal reactions. The results emphasize the need for specific educational interventions and improvements in school health policies to support schools to deal with allergic students ensuring their safety and psychological well-being.
doi:10.1186/2045-7022-3-39
PMCID: PMC4176479  PMID: 24274206
School; Food allergy; Anaphylaxis
16.  Antenatal risk factors for peanut allergy in children 
Background
Prenatal factors may contribute to the development of peanut allergy. We evaluated the risk of childhood peanut allergy in association with pregnancy exposure to Rh immune globulin, folic acid and ingestion of peanut-containing foods.
Methods
We conducted a web-based case-control survey using the Anaphylaxis Canada Registry, a pre-existing database of persons with a history of anaphylaxis. A total of 1300 case children with reported peanut allergy were compared to 113 control children with shellfish allergy. All were evaluated for maternal exposure in pregnancy to Rh immune globulin and folic acid tablet supplements, as well as maternal avoidance of dietary peanut intake in pregnancy.
Results
Receipt of Rh immune globulin in pregnancy was not associated with a higher risk of peanut allergy (odds ratio [OR] 0.86, 95% confidence interval [CI] 0.51 to 1.45), nor was initiation of folic acid tablet supplements before or after conception (OR 0.53, 95% CI 0.19 to 1.48). Complete avoidance of peanut-containing products in pregnancy was associated with a non-significantly lower risk of peanut allergy (OR 0.53, 95% CI 0.27 to 1.03).
Conclusion
The risk of childhood peanut allergy was not modified by the following common maternal exposures in pregnancy: Rh immune globulin, folic acid or peanut-containing foods.
Clinical implications
Rh immune globulin, folic acid supplement use and peanut avoidance in pregnancy have yet to be proven to modulate the risk of childhood anaphylaxis to peanuts.
Capsule Summary
Identification of prenatal factors that contribute to peanut allergy might allow for prevention of this life-threatening condition. This article explores the role of three such factors.
doi:10.1186/1710-1492-7-17
PMCID: PMC3213059  PMID: 21970733
Allergy; peanut; shellfish; prenatal; antenatal; pregnancy; folic acid; Rh immune globulin; survey
17.  Low-Dose Adrenaline, Promethazine, and Hydrocortisone in the Prevention of Acute Adverse Reactions to Antivenom following Snakebite: A Randomised, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Trial 
PLoS Medicine  2011;8(5):e1000435.
In a factorial randomized trial conducted in Sri Lanka, de Silva and colleagues evaluate the safety and efficacy of pretreatments intended to reduce the risk of serious reactions to antivenom following snakebite.
Background
Envenoming from snakebites is most effectively treated by antivenom. However, the antivenom available in South Asian countries commonly causes acute allergic reactions, anaphylactic reactions being particularly serious. We investigated whether adrenaline, promethazine, and hydrocortisone prevent such reactions in secondary referral hospitals in Sri Lanka by conducting a randomised, double-blind placebo-controlled trial.
Methods and Findings
In total, 1,007 patients were randomized, using a 2×2×2 factorial design, in a double-blind, placebo-controlled trial of adrenaline (0.25 ml of a 1∶1,000 solution subcutaneously), promethazine (25 mg intravenously), and hydrocortisone (200 mg intravenously), each alone and in all possible combinations. The interventions, or matching placebo, were given immediately before infusion of antivenom. Patients were monitored for mild, moderate, or severe adverse reactions for at least 96 h. The prespecified primary end point was the effect of the interventions on the incidence of severe reactions up to and including 48 h after antivenom administration. In total, 752 (75%) patients had acute reactions to antivenom: 9% mild, 48% moderate, and 43% severe; 89% of the reactions occurred within 1 h; and 40% of all patients were given rescue medication (adrenaline, promethazine, and hydrocortisone) during the first hour. Compared with placebo, adrenaline significantly reduced severe reactions to antivenom by 43% (95% CI 25–67) at 1 h and by 38% (95% CI 26–49) up to and including 48 h after antivenom administration; hydrocortisone and promethazine did not. Adding hydrocortisone negated the benefit of adrenaline.
Conclusions
Pretreatment with low-dose adrenaline was safe and reduced the risk of acute severe reactions to snake antivenom. This may be of particular importance in countries where adverse reactions to antivenom are common, although the need to improve the quality of available antivenom cannot be overemphasized.
Trial registration
www.ClinicalTrials.gov NCT00270777
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Background
Of the 3,000 or so snake species in the world, about 600 are venomous. Venomous snakes, which are particularly common in equatorial and tropical regions, immobilize their prey by injecting modified saliva (venom) into their prey's tissues through their fangs—specialized hollow teeth. Snakes also use their venoms for self-defense and will bite people who threaten, startle, or provoke them. A bite from a highly venomous snake such as a pit viper or cobra can cause widespread bleeding, muscle paralysis, irreversible kidney damage, and tissue destruction (necrosis) around the bite site. All these effects of snakebite are potentially fatal; necrosis can also result in amputation and permanent disability. It is hard to get accurate estimates of the number of people affected by snakebite, but there may be about 2 million envenomings (injections of venom) and 100,000 deaths every year, many of them in rural areas of South Asia, Southeast Asia, and sub-Saharan Africa.
Why Was This Study Done?
The best treatment for snakebite is to give antivenom (a mixture of antibodies that neutralize the venom) as soon as possible. Unfortunately, in countries where snakebites are common (for example, Sri Lanka), antivenoms are often of dubious quality, and acute allergic reactions to them frequently occur. Although some of these reactions are mild (for example, rashes), in up to 40% of cases, anaphylaxis—a potentially fatal, whole-body allergic reaction—develops. The major symptoms of anaphylaxis—a sudden drop in blood pressure and breathing difficulties caused by swelling of the airways—can be treated with adrenaline. Injections of antihistamines (for example, promethazine) and hydrocortisone can also help. In an effort to prevent anaphylaxis, these drugs are also widely given before antivenom, but there is little evidence that such “prophylactic” treatment is effective or safe. In this randomized double-blind controlled trial (RCT), the researchers test whether low-dose adrenaline, promethazine, and/or hydrocortisone can prevent acute adverse reactions to antivenom. In an RCT, the effects of various interventions are compared to a placebo (dummy) in groups of randomly chosen patients; neither the patients nor the people caring for them know who is receiving which treatment until the trial is completed.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers randomized 1,007 patients who had been admitted to secondary referral hospitals in Sri Lanka after snakebite to receive low-dose adrenaline, promethazine, hydrocortisone, or placebo alone and in all possible combinations immediately before treatment with antivenom. The patients were monitored for at least 96 hours for adverse reactions to the antivenom; patients who reacted badly were given adrenaline, promethazine, and hydrocortisone as “rescue medication.” Three-quarters of the patients had acute reactions—mostly moderate or severe—to the antivenom. Most of the acute reactions occurred within an hour of receiving the antivenom, and nearly half of all the patients were given rescue medication during the first hour. Compared with placebo, pretreatment with adrenaline reduced severe reactions to the antivenom by 43% at one hour and by 38% over 48 hours. By contrast, neither hydrocortisone nor promethazine given alone reduced the rate of adverse reactions to the antivenom. Moreover, adding hydrocortisone negated the beneficial effect of adrenaline.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings show that pretreatment with low-dose adrenaline is safe and reduces the risk of acute severe reactions to snake antivenom, particularly during the first hour after infusion. They do not provide support for pretreatment with promethazine or hydrocortisone, however. Indeed, the findings suggest that the addition of hydrocortisone could negate the benefits of adrenaline, although this finding needs to be treated with caution because of the design of the trial, as does the observed increased risk of death associated with pretreatment with hydrocortisone. More generally, the high rate of acute adverse reactions to antivenom in this trial highlights the importance of improving the quality of antivenoms available in Sri Lanka and other parts of South Asia. The researchers note that the recent World Health Organization guidelines on production, control, and regulation of antivenom should help in this regard but stress that, for now, it is imperative that physicians carefully monitor patients who have been given antivenom and provide prompt treatment of acute reactions when they occur.
Additional Information
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1000435.
The MedlinePlus Encyclopedia has pages on snakebite and on anaphylaxis (in English and Spanish)
The UK National Health Service Choices website also has pages on snakebite and on anaphylaxis
The World Health Organization has information on snakebite and on snake antivenoms (in several languages); its Guidelines for the Production, Control and Regulation of Snake Antivenom Immunoglobulins are also available
The Global Snakebite Initiative has information on snakebite
A PLoS Medicine Research Article by Anuradhani Kasturiratne and colleagues provides data on the global burden of snakebite
A PLoS Medicine Neglected Diseases Article by José María Gutiérrez and colleagues discusses the neglected problem of snakebite envenoming
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1000435
PMCID: PMC3091849  PMID: 21572992
18.  Living with severe allergy: an Anaphylaxis Campaign national survey of young people 
Background
The transition to adulthood can be particularly challenging for young people with severe allergies, who must learn to balance personal safety with independent living. Information and support for young people and their families are crucial to successfully managing this transition. We sought to: gather insights into the impact of severe allergies on the lives of young people; explore where young people go for information about anaphylaxis and what information they want and need; identify areas where further support is needed.
Methods
An online questionnaire survey of young people aged 15–25 years with severe allergies in the United Kingdom (UK) was conducted on behalf of the Anaphylaxis Campaign, the main patient support organisation. Participants were recruited mainly from the Anaphylaxis Campaign membership database and also via allergy clinics and social media. The study was funded by the Anaphylaxis Campaign’s In Memoriam Fund.
Results
A total of 520 young people responded to the survey. The majority had lived with severe allergies since they were young children; 59% reported having attended Accident and Emergency units as a consequence of their allergies. Only 66% of respondents reported always carrying their epinephrine auto-injectors; only 23% had ever used these. Few were currently receiving specialist allergy care; younger respondents were more likely to be under specialist care (34%) than those 18 years and above (23%). Respondents wanted more information about eating out (56%), travelling (54%) and food labelling (43%). Almost a quarter of respondents (23%) reported needing more information on managing their allergies independently without parental help. Managing allergies in the context of social relationships was a concern for 22% of respondents.
Conclusions
This survey has identified the information and support needs and gaps in service provision for young people with severe allergies. Healthcare professionals and patient support organisations, with the support of the food industry, can help to meet these needs.
doi:10.1186/2045-7022-3-2
PMCID: PMC3560150  PMID: 23339770
Allergy; Anaphylaxis; Young people
19.  Paediatric anaphylaxis in a Singaporean children cohort: changing food allergy triggers over time 
Asia Pacific Allergy  2013;3(1):29-34.
Background
We have noticed changes in paediatric anaphylaxis triggers locally in Singapore.
Objective
We aimed to describe the demographic characteristics, clinical features, causative agents and management of children presenting with anaphylaxis.
Methods
This is a retrospective study of Singaporean children presenting with anaphylaxis between January 2005 and December 2009 to a tertiary paediatric hospital.
Results
One hundred and eight cases of anaphylaxis in 98 children were included. Food was the commonest trigger (63%), followed by drugs (30%), whilst 7% were idiopathic. Peanut was the top food trigger (19%), followed by egg (12%), shellfish (10%) and bird's nest (10%). Ibuprofen was the commonest cause of drug induced anaphylaxis (50%), followed by paracetamol (15%) and other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs, 12%). The median age of presentation for all anaphylaxis cases was 7.9 years old (interquartile range 3.6 to 10.8 years), but food triggers occurred significantly earlier compared to drugs (median 4.9 years vs. 10.5 years, p < 0.05). Mucocutaneous (91%) and respiratory features (88%) were the principal presenting symptoms. Drug anaphylaxis was more likely to result in hypotension compared to food anaphylaxis (21.9% vs. 2.7%, Fisher's exact probability < 0.01). There were 4 reported cases (3.6%) of biphasic reaction occurring within 24 h of anaphylaxis.
Conclusion
Food anaphylaxis patterns have changed over time in our study cohort of Singaporean children. Peanuts allergy, almost absent a decade ago, is currently the top food trigger, whilst seafood and bird's nest continue to be an important cause of food anaphylaxis locally. NSAIDs and paracetamol hypersensitivity are unique causes of drug induced anaphylaxis locally.
doi:10.5415/apallergy.2013.3.1.29
PMCID: PMC3563018  PMID: 23403810
Anaphylaxis; Drug allergy; Food allergy; Paediatrics
20.  The epidemiology of food allergy in Europe: protocol for a systematic review 
Background
The European Academy of Allergy and Clinical Immunology is in the process of developing its Guideline for Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis, and this protocol of a systematic review is one of seven inter-linked evidence syntheses that are being undertaken in order to provide a state-of-the-art synopsis of the current evidence base in relation to epidemiology, prevention, diagnosis and clinical management and impact on quality of life, which will be used to inform the formulation of clinical recommendations.
The aims of the systematic review will be to understand and describe the epidemiology of food allergy, i.e. frequency, risk factors and outcomes of patients suffering from food allergy, and to describe how these characteristics vary by person, place and time.
Methods
A highly sensitive search strategy has been developed to retrieve articles that have investigated the various aspects of the epidemiology of food allergy. The search will be implemented by combining the concepts of food allergy and its epidemiology from electronic bibliographic databases.
Discussion
This systematic review will provide the most up to date estimates of the frequency of food allergy in Europe. We will attempt to break these down by age and geographical region in Europe. Our analysis will take into account the suitability of the study design and the respective study biases that could affect exposure and outcome. We will examine the different methods to diagnose food allergy and the associated measures of occurrence.
doi:10.1186/2045-7022-3-13
PMCID: PMC3762068  PMID: 23547766
Food allergy; IgE-mediated; Risk; Anaphylaxis; Epidemiology; Prevalence; Incidence
21.  The acute and long-term management of anaphylaxis: protocol for a systematic review 
Background
The European Academy of Allergy and Clinical Immunology is in the process of developing its Guideline for Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis, and this systematic review is one of seven inter-linked evidence syntheses that are being undertaken in order to provide a state-of-the-art synopsis of the current evidence base in relation to epidemiology, prevention, diagnosis and clinical management and impact on quality of life, which will be used to inform clinical recommendations.
The aims of this systematic review will be to assess the effectiveness of interventions for the acute management of anaphylaxis, and pharmacological and non-pharmacological approaches for the long-term management of anaphylaxis.
Methods
A highly sensitive search strategy has been developed, and validated study design filters will be applied to retrieve all articles pertaining to the management of anaphylaxis from electronic bibliographic databases. We will systematically review the literature on the acute management of anaphylaxis by assessing the effectiveness of epinephrine, H1-antihistamines (versus placebo), systemic glucocorticosteroids, methylxanthines or any other treatments for the emergency management of people experiencing anaphylaxis. The main interventions that have been studied in the context of long-term management are anaphylaxis management plans and allergen-specific immunotherapy.
Discussion
There is at present little in the way of robust evidence to guide decisions on the acute and/or long-term management of anaphylaxis. Given the risk of death and the considerable morbidity associated with anaphylaxis these evidence gaps need to be filled wherever possible; this systematic review will make a start in this area.
doi:10.1186/2045-7022-3-14
PMCID: PMC3626654  PMID: 23575342
Anaphylaxis; Management; Allergy; Emergency
22.  Guidelines for the Diagnosis and Management of Food Allergy in the United States 
Food allergy is an important public health problem that affects children and adults and may be increasing in prevalence. Despite the risk of severe allergic reactions and even death, there is no current treatment for food allergy: the disease can only be managed by allergen avoidance or treatment of symptoms. The diagnosis and management of food allergy also may vary from one clinical practice setting to another. Finally, because patients frequently confuse nonallergic food reactions, such as food intolerance, with food allergies, there is an unfounded belief among the public that food allergy prevalence is higher than it truly is. In response to these concerns, the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, working with 34 professional organizations, federal agencies, and patient advocacy groups, led the development of clinical guidelines for the diagnosis and management of food allergy. These Guidelines are intended for use by a wide variety of health care professionals, including family practice physicians, clinical specialists, and nurse practitioners. The Guidelines include a consensus definition for food allergy, discuss comorbid conditions often associated with food allergy, and focus on both IgE-mediated and non-IgE-mediated reactions to food. Topics addressed include the epidemiology, natural history, diagnosis, and management of food allergy, as well as the management of severe symptoms and anaphylaxis. These Guidelines provide 43 concise clinical recommendations and additional guidance on points of current controversy in patient management. They also identify gaps in the current scientific knowledge to be addressed through future research.
doi:10.1016/j.jaci.2010.10.007
PMCID: PMC4241964  PMID: 21134576
food; allergy; anaphylaxis; diagnosis; disease management; guidelines
23.  Demonstration of epinephrine autoinjectors (EpiPen and Anapen) by pharmacists in a randomised, simulated patient assessment: acceptable, but room for improvement 
Background
Successful treatment of anaphylaxis in the community relies on early and correct use of epinephrine autoinjectors. Community pharmacists supply these devices and have a crucial role teaching patients how to use them. Supply of epinephrine autoinjectors in Australia increased 70-fold in the past decade. New EpiPen and Anapen autoinjectors were launched in Australia in 2011 and 2012, with the potential to cause confusion. However there is no information about how pharmacists demonstrate epinephrine autoinjectors to patients. Therefore the aim of this study was to assess real-world community pharmacist demonstrations of EpiPen and Anapen. We also sought to identify consultation-based predictors of accurate demonstration.
Methods
Demonstration accuracy was assessed in simulated patient visits to 300 randomly selected pharmacies. Pharmacists were asked by the simulated patient how to use original EpiPen, new-look EpiPen or Anapen, and assessed against the relevant Australasian Society of Clinical Immunology and Allergy (ASCIA) Action Plan for Anaphylaxis. Other anaphylaxis advice provided by the pharmacist was also recorded. Accuracy was analysed descriptively. Binary logistic regression was used to identify predictors of accurate demonstration.
Results
All 300 pharmacies were visited. Of 250 pharmacist demonstrations, 46 (18.4%) accurately demonstrated all four steps on ASCIA Action Plan. Failure to state ‘do not touch the needle’ (74.8%) or ‘massage injection site’ (68.8%) reduced accuracy. However 163 (65.2%) accurately demonstrated the three steps required to inject epinephrine (no difference by device, p = 0.15). Associations with accurate demonstration were: checking if the patient had an anaphylaxis action plan (odds ratio, OR = 16.1; 95% CI: 3.86-67.3); stating to call an ambulance after use (OR = 4.0; 95% CI: 1.44-11.1); or explaining side effects of epinephrine (OR = 4.5; 95% CI: 1.48-13.4).
Conclusions
It is critical that anaphylaxis patients know how to use their prescribed epinephrine autoinjector correctly. Pharmacists have acceptable rates of EpiPen and Anapen demonstration accuracy, although more is needed to improve this. Those who pay attention to the need for action plans, emergency care after epinephrine use, and informing patients about the side effects of epinephrine may have better knowledge about anaphylaxis, and in turn significantly improve demonstration accuracy.
doi:10.1186/1710-1492-10-49
PMCID: PMC4177155  PMID: 25264449
Primary care; Pharmacy practice; Simulated patient; Anaphylaxis; EpiPen; Anapen; Technique; Self-injectable epinephrine; Adrenaline
24.  Self-administration of epinephrine in children: a survey of current prescription practice and recommendations for improvement. 
The Ulster Medical Journal  2003;72(2):80-85.
The prevalence of peanut allergy is increasing rapidly and many children are now prescribed self-injectable epinephrine as part of their management. We aimed to examine the current extent of self-injectable epinephrine dispensing to children in the Eastern Health and Social Services Board (EHSSB), Northern Ireland, including indications for prescription, investigations performed, information and training provided and actual usage. Dispensing records held by the EHSSB were examined for the period May to August 1998. All general practitioners prescribing 'Epipens' during this period were contacted and asked to identify the patient and provide contact details. Information was gathered using postal questionnaires sent to General Practitioners and parents. A total of 104 'Epipen' prescriptions were dispensed. Thirty-seven (36%) general practitioners responded to the initial questionnaire; of these 36 (35%) were suitable for analysis. Thirty-four parents were then contacted; 28 (82%) returned questionnaires were reviewed. The commonest indication for 'Epipen' prescription was peanut allergy (32 of 36 (89%) general practitioner responses; 25 of 28 (89%) parent responses). Twenty-six (72%) children had been seen by a specialist; all except one had either blood or skin tests. Six of the remaining eight children had no investigations. General practitioners reported 14 (39%) parents to have basic life support training, compared with six (21%) parents. Eighteen (64%) parents had been given written information regarding their child's allergy, nine (32%) had been referred to a dietician and seven (25%) children wore a medical warning bracelet. The Epipen had been used by three children; all three had multiple food allergies. This study has identified a great variability in the management of children with allergy including the need for specialist referral, further investigation, written allergy advice, referral to a dietician and formalised training in basic life support and administration of epinephrine. It suggests a lack of consensus amongst health care professionals as to the best practice in the management of potentially life threatening food allergy and indicates, at least, a need for better multidisciplinary communication.
PMCID: PMC2475427  PMID: 14696817
25.  Oral food challenge to wheat: a near-fatal anaphylaxis and review of 93 food challenges in children 
Background
Wheat allergy is among the most common food allergy in children, but few publications are available assessing the risk of anaphylaxis due to wheat.
Methods
In this study, we report the case of near-fatal anaphylaxis to wheat in a patient undergoing an oral food challenge (OFC) after the ingestion of a low dose (256 mg) of wheat. Moreover, for the first time, we analyzed the risk of anaphylaxis during an OFC to wheat in 93 children, compared to other more commonly challenged foods such as milk, egg, peanuts, and soy in more than 1000 patients.
Results
This study, which includes a large number of OFCs to wheat, shows that wheat is an independent risk factor that is associated with anaphylaxis requiring epinephrine administration (Odds Ratio [OR] = 2.4) and anaphylaxis requiring epinephrine administration to low dose antigen (OR = 8.02). Other risk factors for anaphylaxis, anaphylaxis requiring epinephrine administration, and anaphylaxis to low dose antigen was a history of a prior reaction not involving only the skin (OR = 1.8, 1.9 and 1.8 respectively). None of the clinical variables available prior to performing the OFC could predict which children among those undergoing OFCs to wheat would develop anaphylaxis or anaphylaxis for low dose antigen.
Conclusion
This study shows that wheat is an independent risk factor that is associated with anaphylaxis requiring epinephrine administration and anaphylaxis requiring epinephrine administration to low dose antigen.
doi:10.1186/1939-4551-6-14
PMCID: PMC3765891  PMID: 23965733

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