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Epidemiology of allergic reactions to hymenoptera stings in Irish school children


Jonathan O’B Hourihane, Professor of Paediatrics and Child Health, Clinical Investigations Unit, Cork University Hospital, Wilton, Cork, Ireland
Tel.: 00 353 21 490 1237
Fax: 00 353 21 434 5217
E-mail: J.Hourihane@ucc.ieSources of Funding: AJ, JOBH, Health Research Board, Ireland; ED, IJP,JO’BH Irish Lung Foundation.


Jennings A, Duggan E, Perry IJ, Hourihane JO’B. Epidemiology of allergic reactions to hymenoptera stings in Irish school children.
Pediatr Allergy Immunol 2010: 21: 1166–1170.
© 2010 John Wiley & Sons A/S

The aim of this was to study generate the first epidemiological data regarding the prevalence of hymenoptera allergy among school children in Ireland. Questionnaires, including six sting-specific questions (1), were distributed to the parents of primary school children aged 6–8 and 11–13, divided equally between rural and urban backgrounds. From 110 schools, 4112 questionnaires were returned. A total of 1544 (37.5%) children had been stung in their lifetime. Among the total, 5.8% of children stung experienced a large local reaction, 3.4% had a mild (cutaneous) systemic reaction (MSR) and 0.8% experienced a moderate/severe systemic reaction (SSR); these figures respectively represent 2.2%, 1.3% and 0.2% of the total study group. On logistic regression analysis, older children and rural children were at a higher risk of being stung (OR 1.7; 95% CI 1.4–2.; OR 1.6; 95% CI 1.4–1.8 respectively). Rural dwellers and asthma sufferers were more likely to experience an SSR (OR 4.3; 95% CI 1.4–13.5 and OR 2.8; 95% CI 1.8–4.3, respectively). Hymenoptera stings are more common in rural than urban dwelling Irish children. Asthma imparted a greater risk of SSR in this study population. Severe reactions are unusual overall, occurring in <1% of those stung, a lower prevalence than in Israeli teenagers but in keeping with other European reports relating to young children.