Increasing emergency department visits for anaphylaxis in very early childhood: A canary in the coal mine

Kristina Rueter, Natasha Moseley, Brennan Ta, Natasha Bear, Meredith L. Borland, Susan L. Prescott

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Aim: The incidence of anaphylaxis is increasing globally in tandem with changing environmental and lifestyle factors. There is very limited data on very early childhood presentations. We aim to assess changes in rates, characteristics and management of infant anaphylaxis in a paediatric ED over a 15-year period. Methods: We conducted a retrospective study of children <2 years of age who presented with verified anaphylaxis comparing cases in years 2003–2007 with those in 2013–2017. Standardised information was collected on demographics, clinical presentation, management and triggers. Results: Manually confirmed anaphylaxis rates in <2 year olds increased from 3.6 to 6.2 per 104 population (OR 1.7, 95% CI: 1.3–2.7; p < 0.001) with the greatest increase in <1 year olds. Anaphylaxis severity increased between 2003–2007 and 2013–2017 (OR 2.3, 95% CI: 1.2–4.3; p = 0.018). Failure to administer adrenaline was reduced in 2013–2017 (p = 0.007). Food was the leading anaphylaxis trigger (97.85%). Conclusion: This is the first study to suggest an increase in the incidence and severity of ED anaphylaxis presentations in children aged <2 years. Increased awareness of specific characteristics in this age group is required to facilitate timely recognition and optimal management. Further large-scale studies are warranted to understand underlying environmental drivers and find prevention strategies to reduce the burden of disease.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2182-2188
Number of pages7
JournalActa Paediatrica, International Journal of Paediatrics
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2023

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