Food allergy affects 4-8% of children and allergic reactions can be fatal. In fact, the main cause of poor outcome with accidental food allergy exposure is delay in the use of epinephrine. To improve parental knowledge and overall management of food allergies, a group of allergists, nurses and dieticians has developed and validated educational materials (J Pediatr 2012; 160: 651-6). In addition, they have made these materials available at no cost online:
- www.cofargroup.org (Consortium of Food Allergy Research Website)
To validate their materials, the authors enrolled 60 parents of newly referred children with a prior food allergy. The measured outcome was demonstration of an autoinjector for epinephrine. The correct number of steps in the use of the autoinjector increased from a 3.4 to 5.95 score (max score 6). In addition, at 1 year, the score remained high, 5.47. Knowledge tests improved as well: from 9.2 to 12.4 (out of 15); at one year, the score was 12.7. On a practical basis, the frequency of allergic reactions was reduced as well. The annualized allergic reaction rate dropped from 1.77 (historical data) to 0.42 after the instruction.
The article also relates that some of the material relied on previous educational material, in particular the food allergy emergency plan available from the Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Network (www.foodallergy.org).
Materials available include information on specific allergic disorders, avoiding allergens, management in and outside home, and living a safe/healthy life. In addition, an educational video is available.
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