By now you’ve probably read the Allergic Living article about two families that have filed lawsuits after losing their sons to anaphylaxis. The details are horrific, as they always are when a child is taken by allergic reactions.
In one case, a boy of 16 from Minnesota died from an anaphylactic reaction when it turned out the pancake he was eating at a restaurant was contaminated with milk. The family did not have his auto-injectors on-hand and had to rush him home, but by then it was too late.
In the other, an 11 year old Alabama boy died from a severe reaction to a supermarket cookie. Though an employee assured the family that the cookie contained no tree nuts, it did in fact contain walnuts. His mother administered Benadryl once the symptoms presented themselves and at some point afterward administered his auto-injector, but despite being airlifted to the hospital he could not be resuscitated.
These deaths are every parent’s nightmare, especially for those of us who are part of the community of kids with food allergies. But if there is anything to be redeemed from these tragedies, it is what can be learned to prevent them from happening to other children.
With no disrespect or judgement meant for the grieving parents of these boys, and knowing nothing more about the circumstances that lead to their reactions, let’s remind ourselves of what we can do to prevent occurrences similar to these in the future.
On February 23rd at this year’s annual meeting of the American Academy of Allergy Asthma and Immunology (AAAAI) in Houston, a study was presented regarding incidence of anaphylaxis in schools during the 2013-2014 school year, confirming the need for stock epinephrine.
Of 5683 schools that responded to the study survey, a total of 919 anaphylactic events were reported by 11% of the schools. Here’s a quick breakdown:
Congratulations to the people of New Jersey with the signing of A304/S801 – NJ’s stock epinephrine bill – into law by Governor Chris Christie.
Epinephrine is the only drug used to treat anaphylaxis, a life threatening allergic reaction. “Stock” refers to epinephrine that is not specifically prescribed to an individual but can be used on anyone that is displaying symptoms of anaphylaxis.
We’re fighting a war out there… a war against anaphylaxis. If you have a severe allergy or care for someone who does, you’re on the front lines. So put on your helmet, be vigilant, and don’t forget your only weapon against the enemy: your epinephrine auto-injector.
Take 2 along everywhere… every time.
No doubt you’ve already broken a New Year’s resolution or two if you’re like us. (Though we do vow to get to the gym more often… eventually. No, really!)
Here’s our New Year’s resolution list for parents and caretakers of children with food allergies. These are much too important to break, and we hope you’ll join us in resolving to make 2015 a safe and happy year – with no mention of “child” and “anaphylaxis” in the same headline!
A study of 102 patients enrolled from adult and pediatric clinics showed that only 16% used their epinephrine auto-injectors correctly. Of the remaining 84%, more than half missed 3 or more steps for proper administration.
The most common errors included:
- Failure to hold the unit in place for at least 10 seconds after triggering
- Failure to place the needle end of the device on the thigh, and
- Failure to depress the device forcefully enough to activate the injection.
With the holidays upon us, the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA) has issued the following call to action:
Children suffering food-induced anaphylaxis (FIA) were less than half as likely to need hospitalization if they received epinephrine prior to visiting the hospital emergency department. This was the finding of a study published in September in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology: In Practice.
The study, conducted at Hasbro Children’s Hospital/Rhode Island Hospital, reviewed the charts of 384 emergency department visits for FIA during a six year period beginning January 1, 2004. Of these, 234 (61%) received treatment with epinephrine prior to the visit (the “early” receivers of epinephrine.)
Once again, world attention is focused on the story of a 15 year old boy from the UK who died of peanut cross-contact. Rather than focus solely on the incident itself, we’ll highlight common sense strategies to help avoid tragedies like this in the first place.
William Luckett had had his first food allergy reaction at four years old and was diagnosed with a nut allergy at age six. At that time he was given a prescription for epinephrine auto-injectors which he never needed to use. Over time, with the absence of reactions, the family stopped filling the prescriptions.
In December 2012, William was visiting his father on the Isle of Wight and was having ribs for dinner, takeout from a local Chinese restaurant. He began experiencing classic symptoms of anaphylaxis: difficulty breathing and swelling of the lips. Despite his father’s efforts, William lost consciousness and was pronounced dead upon arrival at a local hospital.
California’s stock epinephrine bill, SB 1266 introduced February 21, 2014 by Senator Bob Huff, would make the stocking of epinephrine mandatory for school districts, county offices of education, and charter schools as well as the training of personnel to administer the drug in cases of suspected anaphylaxis.
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