Dr George Du Toit, Consultant Paediatric Allergist at The Portland Hospital
Q My neighbour’s child recently suffered from anaphylactic shock to a food. Is this something I should worry about, and how can I take precautions?
A Most food allergic reactions are thankfully only mild in severity, involving urticaria (hives or wheals) and angioedema (swelling of the face and lips), but a small proportion of reactions may be more severe, involving cardiorespiratory features (low blood pressure, wheezing, difficulty to breathe) – this is termed anaphylaxis. Whilst anaphylaxis can be caused by many allergens in the UK the more common triggers include foods, insects e.g. wasps, and medications e.g. penicillin. The prevalence of food allergy appears to have increased over the recent past with approximately 3-6% of children in the UK being affected. Indeed, food allergy is now so common that it is considered a public health concern. Most food allergy is caused by a small number of allergens, including milk, egg, peanut, tree nuts, wheat, soya, fish, shellfish, sesame, and kiwi. Many children with food allergies have a background of infantile eczema and a family history of atopy, but not always. Severe reactions are more common amongst children with nut allergy, but deaths have been reported due to other allergens such as milk. Children with food allergies who have experienced anaphylaxis or who also have asthma should be prescribed adrenaline injectors to carry at all times. This should be accompanied by training in how to use them and a written personalised emergency management plan. Children can outgrow food allergy and should therefore be followed up to look for signs of tolerance.
For further information or to book an appointment please contact Dr George Du Toit’s secretary.
Telephone: 0845 556 1261