Objective: To describe the demographic characteristics, clinical features, causative agents, settings and administered therapy in children presenting with anaphylaxis.
Methods: This was a retrospective case note study of children presenting with anaphylaxis over a 5-year period to the Emergency Department (ED) at the Royal Children’s Hospital, Melbourne.
Results: One-hundred and twenty-three cases of anaphylaxis in 117 patients were included. There was one death. The median age of presentation was 2.4 years. Home was the most common setting (48%) and food (85%) the most common trigger. Peanut (18%) and cashew nut (13%) were the most common cause of anaphylaxis. The median time from exposure to anaphylaxis for all identifiable agents was 10 min. The median time from onset to therapy was 40 min. Respiratory features were the principal presenting symptoms (97%). Seventeen per cent of subjects had experienced anaphylaxis previously.
Conclusions: This is the largest study of childhood anaphylaxis reported. Major findings are that most children presenting to the ED with anaphylaxis are first-time anaphylactic reactions and the time to administration of therapy is often significantly delayed. Most reactions occurred in the home. Peanut and cashew nut were the most common causes of anaphylaxis in this study population, suggesting that triggers for anaphylaxis in children have not changed significantly over the last decade.