Study in The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology: In Practice Finds the Rate of Anaphylaxis Doubled between 2005 and 2014

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Food-related anaphylaxis rates jumped 196% in children aged 5 to 17 years-old.

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As the disproportionate increase in anaphylaxis among children and infants suggests, these patients represent a vulnerable population.

The article “Increasing Emergency Department Visits for Anaphylaxis, 2005-2014” in The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology: In Practice outlines a study conducted by researchers at the Mayo Clinic that found the rate of emergency department anaphylaxis visits doubled between 2005 and 2014. The researchers used a nationwide administrative claims database to look at emergency department data from the 10 year period. They found the rate of emergency department visits for anaphylaxis increased 101% in that time. Although other recent studies also suggest the frequency of anaphylaxis is increasing, it is unclear whether it is due to increased recognition, diagnosis or reporting rates.

The study looked at 56,212 visits to emergency departments for anaphylaxis in their data set. The researchers found the median age of the patients suffering from anaphylaxis was 36 years-old and patients between 35 and 64 years-old made up the largest group of patients at 42.8%. The greatest increase in visits was among children. The rate of anaphylaxis spiked 196% in children from 5 to 17 years-old.

While the majority of the cases were caused by unidentified triggers (56.9%), the second most common trigger was food (27.1%). Overall the rate of food-related anaphylaxis grew 124%. Almost all age groups showed a significant jump in the rate of food-related cases, with children 5-17 years of age showing the greatest increase at 285%. The only age group that did not show a significant increase were patients 65 years and older.

The rate of medication-related anaphylaxis emergency department visits increased 212%. While most patients seen in the emergency department for medication-related anaphylaxis were female and older, the highest increase was seen in a much younger population. Children from birth to 4 years-old had an increase of 479% for medication-related anaphylaxis during the study.

“As the disproportionate increase in anaphylaxis among children and infants suggests, these patients represent a vulnerable population,” said Megan Motosue, MD, lead author of the article. “Our findings support those of other studies which reported rates of anaphylaxis in children aged 0 to 4 years as being three times greater than those among older age groups. Enhanced awareness of anaphylaxis prevention, diagnosis and proper management is necessary, particularly for children and infants.”

Over the past decade, doctors’ and the public’s understanding of anaphylaxis has grown, which could cause more doctors to diagnosis patients with anaphylaxis. The study relied on diagnostic codes utilized by doctors and administrators to track treatments and ailments patients have. More accurate coding may have contributed to the increasing rates, although most studies agree that the rate of anaphylaxis has increased.

The American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology (AAAAI) represents allergists, asthma specialists, clinical immunologists, allied health professionals and others with a special interest in the research and treatment of allergic and immunologic diseases. Established in 1943, the AAAAI has more than 6,900 members in the United States, Canada and 72 other countries. The AAAAI’s Find an Allergist/Immunologist service is a trusted resource to help you find a specialist close to home.

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