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Allergy Basics

Epinephrine Use Low in Reactions

Many Canadians suffering moderate to severe allergic reactions are not using epinephrine to treat the reaction, says Dr. Ann Clarke an allergist at McGill University Health Centre.

Clarke and her colleagues surveyed close to 10,000 Canadians in the Surveying Canadians to Access the Prevalence of Common Food Allergies and Attitudes towards Food Labelling and Risk (SCAAALAR) study. They found that 3.2 per cent were allergic to one or more of peanuts, tree nuts, shellfish, fish and sesame. Of those, “at most, only 38.7 per cent reported receiving epinephrine,” while having a moderate to severe reaction, says Clarke.

It’s not clear whether these individuals had auto-injectors and simply didn’t use them, or if epinephrine wasn’t available to them. Either way, Clarke told Allergic Living that the numbers concerning.

“We certainly know that there is a problem here in the proper management, because one would like to see that almost everybody who is reporting a moderate to severe reaction would receive the epinephrine.”

Clarke says her team has dug into the data a little further to look at what type of people are likely to carry an auto-injector, but results of that analysis are not yet available.

The SCAAALAR study, which is partially funded by the allergy research network AllerGen, also looked at attitudes towards food labeling, particularly precautionary statements on food packages (such as “may contain” advisories), and attitudes of general population toward risk of food allergy in the context of environmental health risks. Results will be available in the coming months.

Highlights from SCAAALAR study

Allergies in the Canadian population

Children 1.68%
Adult 0.71%
All 0.93%
Tree Nut
Children 1.59%
Adult 1%
All 1.14%
Children 0.5%
Adult 1.69%
All 1.42
Children 0.18%
Adult 0.56%
All 0.48%
Children 0.23%
Adult 0.05%
All 0.09%

Published in the June 2010  issue of the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology. View here.

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