We have to be wise on selecting food we eat everyday.
Report Stresses Need for Better Patient, Doctor and Food Service Staff Education
A new report on fatalities from food induced anaphylaxis, which follows up an earlier study, suggests that little progress has been made in effectively preventing and treating food allergy reactions over the past five years. The findings support, alarmingly, earlier statistics showing that adolescents and young adults are at highest risk for fatalities. The need for more education on the part of the medical community and patients, more attention focused on reading labels and avoiding allergens, and the importance of carrying and using epinephrine are some of the major areas which need to be improved.
The report, which appears in the April 2007 issue of the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology JACI looks at 31 individuals who died as a result of their food allergies. This report follows up one from 2001 in which 32 food induced fatalities were examined.
These statistics are disturbing, says Anne Munoz Furlong, Founder and CEO of the Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Network FAAN, because they show we are not making the progress we hoped to in preventing food allergy related deaths or in protecting teens, the highest at risk group for fatal reactions. It is going to take more awareness and action to make a difference.
The foods primarily responsible continue to be peanuts and tree nuts, such as walnuts, almonds and hazelnuts, but also include milk and shrimp. The most common food sources were restaurant or food service items with hidden allergens 46% and packaged food with undeclared allergens 27%. Desserts, particularly cookies and bakery items, and Chinese food such as egg rolls caused a significant number of the reactions. In 13% of cases, the food items were homemade. In addition, every individual, for whom there was information, had asthma.
Most of the individuals were not carrying their self-injectable epinephrine, and some had never been prescribed this life saving drug. A June 2006 study entitled Risk Taking and Coping Strategies of Food Allergic Adolescents and Young Adults, also published in JACI, showed that adolescents often don't carry their epinephrine self injectors because they are self conscious about carrying something that makes them look different from their friends.
The solution starts with better education of medical professionals at all levels. Physicians need to do a better job of diagnosing patients and providing adequate evaluation. They also need to redouble their efforts to emphasize the importance of allergen avoidance and carrying epinephrine at all times, reports the study co-author Allan Bock, M.D., an allergist in Colorado.
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