Children suffering from food allergies can experience dangerous and potentially life-threatening allergic reactions due to accidental ingestion of avoided foods.
In the study, “Allergic Reactions to Foods in Preschool-Aged Children in a Prospective Observational Food Allergy Study,” in the July 2012 Pediatrics (published online June 25), researchers studied 512 infants diagnosed with or at risk for having an allergy to milk or egg.
There was a high rate of allergic reactions attributable to problems such as a lack of vigilance in checking ingredients and supervising children, and errors in reading ingredient labels and in preparing foods safely, suggesting a need for more education to avoid reactions. Non-accidental exposures of milk, egg, and peanuts accounted for 11% of all reactions; therefore allergen re-introduction needs to be discussed with families before attempting on their own. Almost half of allergic reactions were due to food not given by parents, emphasizing the need to provide education to all caretakers, including other relatives and teachers.
In addition, only 30 percent of reactions with severe symptoms were treated with epinephrine, so study authors conclude that improved education on what symptoms warrant treatment with epinephrine, reassurance for caretakers about the safety of administering epinephrine, and teaching its proper use are necessary.