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Childhood food allergy and anaphylaxis: an educational priority

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The challenge of higher rates of food allergy must be met through development of better models of care and education

IgE-mediated food allergy (FA) and anaphylaxis have become an increasing public and personal health burden in developed countries over the past decade, contributing to increased demand for specialty services, significant economic cost of care, and reduced quality of life for children with FA and their families.1 In the most accurate estimate in Australia to date, the Victorian HealthNuts study found the prevalence of challenge-proven FA at age 12 months to be 10% overall.2 Effective strategies for primary prevention of FA are lacking, and secondary prevention is limited to strategies to reduce the risk of unintentional exposure. Although food-specific immunotherapy appears promising, it remains at the investigational stage because of the infrastructure required, high rates of adverse reactions and lack of persistent tolerance when treatment ceases.3 While several risk factors for childhood FA have been proposed — such as early-onset atopic eczema, timing of solids introduction, vitamin D status and intestinal bacterial load3 — this area remains an active area of research.

Although other triggers for anaphylaxis exist (insect venom, medication or latex), the major strategies…