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Keywords:

  • β-agonist;
  • epinephrine;
  • food anaphylaxis;
  • hidden allergens;
  • personalized care project;
  • school

Background: Children with severe food allergies can benefit from a personalized care project (PCP) in schools. The usefulness of the PCP and the residual risk of allergic emergencies are poorly appreciated. The objective was to evaluate the efficiency of the management plan and the training in the use of the emergency kit.

Methods: A telephone survey using a detailed questionnaire was performed in 45 families whose children had been previously referred to the department. The distribution of disorders was as follows: asthma, 37.7%; atopic dermatitis and asthma, 28.8%; atopic dermatitis, 15.5%; angioedema and urticaria, 13.3%; and anaphylactic shock, 4.2%. Food allergy had been diagnosed in the 45 children by past history, and double-blind or single-blind, placebo-controlled food challenges (DBPCFCs, or SBPCFCs) with evidence of specific IgE. Exactly 75.5% of the children had peanut allergy. Multiple food allergies characterized 46.8% of the subjects. They had benefited from a strict elimination diet and a protocol for emergency care including a ready-to-use intramuscular epinephrine injection. A PCP had been requested by the School Public Health Service.

Results: Thirty-nine PCPs were implemented (86.5% of the requests). They represented 63% of the PCPs for food allergy in the eastern region of France: one per 5800 school-age children. The retrospective period of evaluation was 25 months on average. The types of meals were very diverse, and medically acceptable in 83% of cases. The place where the emergency kit was stored in the school varied. Forty reactions occurred in 33% of the children (5/6 times in the absence of a PCP), asthma in 28%, shock in 1%, and immediate skin reactions in 11%. Reactions occurred at home in 78% of the subjects, and in school in 22% of the subjects. The cause of the reactions was not specifically known in 63% of cases. Twenty-seven percent of the reactions were linked to the ingestion of food allergens. In 10% of subjects, the reaction was due to a modification of ingredients by the food industry.

Conclusions: The frequency of respiratory symptoms during oral challenge tests was confirmed by the frequency of asthmatic reactions within the follow-up period. The role of hidden allergens and of misleading labeling validates the need for PCPs in the case of peanut and tree nut allergies, past history of severe reactions, multiple food allergies, reactions to a low dose in DBPCFCs, and asthmatic reactions to foods. This study provides encouraging data on the usefulness of PCPs and confirms the need for thorough instruction and training of the school staff in dealing with allergic emergencies. Addition of a β-agonist spray to the emergency kit is suggested.