, Volume 9, Issue 1, pp 57-63
Date: 09 Dec 2008

Characteristics of food-allergic patients placing them at risk for a fatal anaphylactic episode

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Food allergy is a growing public health and food safety concern. Twelve million Americans—4% of the population—suffer from the disease, and the prevalence is increasing. There is no cure for food allergy; strict avoidance is the only way to prevent a reaction. Food allergy is a major cause of anaphylaxis, a severe, potentially life-threatening allergic reaction that results in an estimated 30,000 emergency department visits and 100 to 150 deaths annually. Factors that place food-allergic patients at greater risk for a fatal anaphylactic episode include asthma; being a teen or young adult; peanut, tree nut, and seafood allergy; not carrying epinephrine; restaurant food; spending time in schools and child care settings; and lack of information from health care providers. Better education of patients and their families about managing their food allergy and high-risk situations can help to prevent future fatalities.