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Allergy alerts - The incidence of parentally reported allergies in children presenting for general anesthesia

Sommerfield, D.L., Sommerfield, A., Schilling, A., Slevin, L., Lucas, M., von Ungern-Sternberg, B.S. and Thomas, M. (2018) Allergy alerts - The incidence of parentally reported allergies in children presenting for general anesthesia. Pediatric Anesthesia, 29 (2). pp. 153-160.

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Background and aim
Pediatric patients increasingly report allergies, including allergies to food and medications. We sought to determine the incidence and, nature of parent‐reported allergies in children presenting for surgery and its significance for anesthetists.

We prospectively collected data on admissions through our surgical admission unit over a 2‐month period at a pediatric tertiary care teaching hospital. Data collected included patient demographics, history of atopy, with more comprehensive information collected if an allergy was reported. A clinical immunologist and an anesthetist reviewed the documentation of all patients reporting an allergy.

We reviewed 1001 pediatric patients, 158 (15.8%) patients with parent‐reported allergies; to medications/drugs (n = 73), food (n = 66), environmental allergens (dust/grasses, n = 35), tapes/dressings (n = 27), latex (n = 4), and venom (eg, bee, wasp, n = 9). Forty‐one patients reported antibiotic allergies, with Beta‐lactam antibiotics being the most common, with the majority presenting with rash alone (57%). Ten patients reported allergies to nonsteroidal anti‐inflammatory drugs and eight to opioids. Twenty‐four patients reported egg and/or peanut allergy. Only 3/1001 (0.3%) patients were deemed to have evidence of likely IgE‐mediated drug allergy. Of the reported allergies, only 60 (38.2%) had been investigated prior, most likely to be followed up were food (53%) and environmental allergies (44.4%). Only 4/73 (5.5%) reported medication allergies had further follow‐up. Just four patients (0.4% of the entire cohort) had drug sensitivities/allergies that were likely to majorly alter anesthesia practice.

Only the minority of parent‐reported allergies in pediatric surgical patients were specialist confirmed and likely to be clinically relevant. Self‐reported food allergy is commonly specialist verified whereas reactions to medications were generally not. Over‐reporting of allergies is increasingly common and limits clinician choice of medications. Better education of patients and their families and more timely verification or dismissal of parent‐reported reactions is urgently needed.

Item Type: Journal Article
Murdoch Affiliation(s): Institute for Immunology and Infectious Diseases
Publisher: Wiley
Copyright: © 2018 John Wiley & Sons Ltd
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