An Increasing Problem
The rate of emergency visits and hospitalizations of children with severe food allergies nearly tripled in Illinois over the last five years, based on a Chicago Tribune article and study released by Northwestern Medicine in Chicago.
ARCpoint labs of Chicago is dedicated to wellness in our community. As members of the Chicago Loop Alliance, we’ve recommended allergy and Alcat testing (food reactions) as a beginning source for determination of an individual’s risk for food and regional allergies.
The incidences of ER visit frequency increased across all ages and ethnicities studied. The study is important as it shows the impact food allergies are having in Illinois and other places.
Allergies are tied to genetics and the environment, which means that something has changed to cause such a drastic increase, according to Dr. Ruchi Gupta at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine.
The children in the study experienced anaphylaxis, which presents itself in several symptoms, including difficult breathing, reduced blood pressure, loss of consciousness, and sometimes death. The symptoms of allergies can be masked by asthma. Therefore, it’s important to be sure that protocols are followed and that the at-risk child always has access to Benadryl, an EpiPen, and an inhaler.
The study included data from 1,893 ER visits for food induced anaphylaxia at about 200 Illinois hospitals over a 4-year span. The rate went from 6.3 per 100,000 children in 2008 to 17.2 per 100,000 children in 2012 for ER visits and hospital admissions. ER visits rose in that period by 8% at Lurie Children’s hospital. Other states have not done comparable studies over a 4-5 year period, so it is difficult to track comparable data.
Researchers have not been able to pinpoint why this rate has increased. Previous studies indicated that most affected children were white or from higher income families. The most recent study, however, showed increases in Hispanic, Asian, white, and black children. Hispanic children, previously the lowest group, had the biggest increase in food allergies, at a 44% average annual rise. Food allergies affect an estimated 8% children.
We don’t know whether or not it’s better to withhold peanuts from younger children who may be at risk for allergies. Under doctor supervision it may be better to give babies small amounts of peanuts, but this defies conventional thought, according to the New England Journal of Medicine. Conventional thought, as stated by the American Academy of Pediatrics, recommends that parents withhold peanuts from at-risk children.
For family attorneys, these protocols may come up not only in your own families but also in your practice as to what practices are best amongst parents who are in marital disputes and have at-risk children. Court orders on allergy testing and protocols might differ.
ARCpoint Labs can test children for allergies at our convenient locations or on site. Please call for more information or visit us at www.mylabtestchicago.com.