Important news article from the New York Times. Our thoughts after reading it, and reviewing the study:
Despite the dramatic rise in food allergy in America, we know that epinephrine auto-injectors are often not used or their use is delayed. In this study, food was the allergen in 84% of the cases, with peanut or tree nut being the #1 cause.
This is a good article because it has several excellent take-home points for parents and caregivers:
1. If you think the child is having an allergic reaction and you are thinking about using epi, don’t delay. It is safer to give it than not.
2. A good rule of thumb: if 2-organ systems are involved, give epi.
3. Earlier epi administration is associated with better outcomes.
Unfortunately, not all of the patients with previous anaphylactic reactions were prescribed epi, and among those who were, only 70% had it at home.
Of course, two reasons epinephrine auto-injectors are under-utilized is cost and unfamiliarity/fear of using it. At Austin Family Allergy & Asthma, we make sure all our patients who need an epinephrine auto-injector are able to obtain one. We teach parents/caregivers when and how to use it so there is less fear and anxiety about using it. We also provide school training on anaphylaxis recognition and epinephrine auto-injector use.