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Kids’ Food Allergies Damper Dining Out

Study Shows Children With Peanut Allergies Often Don’t Get Lifesaving Medication

Other Findings

  • About one in five families said they never ate out or ordered fast food because of their kid's allergies.
  • Only 71% were aware that restaurant chains and corporate web sites often provide allergen information, and only 26% knew that 800 numbers offer allergy information.

The survey also showed that restaurants can improve their notification of allergenic ingredients, Sicherer says. Advisory statements such as "menu item may be cooked in the same oil as an item containing the allergen" don't help much, the parents reported.

Also, 48% of parents found allergen information "extremely inconsistent" from restaurant to restaurant.

Epinephrine Underused

For the second study, Nha Nguyen Luu, MD, and colleagues at McGill University Health Care in Montreal, Canada, surveyed 271 parents of kids with peanut allergy.

Overall, 127 of their children suffered 148 reactions over an average one-year period. Seventy-eight were considered moderate, and 19 were severe. Such attacks are usually rapid and overwhelming, and include symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, severe, high-pitched wheezing, breathing difficulty, hives, facial swelling, and loss of consciousness.

Results showed that even though an epinephrine shot can slow down or stop a life-threatening allergic reaction, it was used in only 22 of these 97 cases, Luu says.

"All these kids had diagnosed peanut allergies, so they should have had a device for self-injecting epinephrine (commonly known as EpiPen or Ana-Kit)," she tells WebMD.

"We don't know if they never got the prescription, they didn't fill the prescription, or in my best guess, were scared to inject their kids," Luu says.

Epinephrine shots do have side effects, chiefly palpitations and flushing, but kids generally tolerate them well, she says.

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