A study shows that even if parents and caregivers know the allergic foods for infants and have been directed to avoid those possible triggers, allergic reactions may still happen as a result of exposures that are both accidental and not.
In the recently published study in Pediatrics, it was reported that unintentional exposures from accidental ingestion, errors in reading labels and cross contamination led to 87% out of the 834 allergic reactions to eggs, peanuts or milk.
Exposures that are non-accidental caused 13% of the allergic reactions. According to pediatric allergist and the study's lead author David Fleischer, it is unclear why caregivers will intentionally give a child an allergen that they know of. Maybe they do it to check if the child is still allergic to the food or has already outgrown it.
Fleischer, together with his colleagues, studied data of 512 infants between 3 to 15 months of age who have been diagnosed with or at a risk of having allergies from peanuts, milk or eggs. In a period of 36 months, 72% had a minimum of one reaction and 53% had more than one.
Only half of the unintentional reactions came from food given by parents with highlight on the importance of educating all of the child's caregivers on allergies caused by food, said Fleischer.
Northwestern University's pediatrics professor Ruchi Gupta led a study published in the previous year which shows that 8% of kids below 18 years old have allergies on food. Around 40% have experienced a life-threatening allergic reaction like obstructed airways or a blood pressure drop.
Fleischer says that the study did not support concerns on inhalation or skin contact as possible triggers of severe allergic reactions.
Only 30% of serious allergies were properly treated with epinephrine injection even if caregivers claimed that they felt that was needed. Epinephrine helps stop allergic reactions by relaxing the airways' muscles and contracting blood vessels.
According to Fleischer, there is usually a fear of utilizing epinephrine because of worries that it will have side effects. He said that in the studies they have conducted, parents were surprised at the effectiveness of epinephrine.