Background and Aims: Data on acute paediatric anaphylaxis presentations to the emergency department (ED) are limited. All allergic presentations to one Australian paediatric ED were studied to determine epidemiological, clinical, and outcome data.
Methods: Retrospective, case based study of patients under 16 years attending one metropolitan, paediatric teaching hospital ED in Australia over three years. The medical records of patients presenting with generalised allergic reactions and anaphylaxis satisfying relevant ICD-9-CM diagnostic codes were studied. The incidence, age, sex ratio, co-morbidities, likely aetiology, clinical features, management, and disposal were determined.
Results: A total of 526 children with generalised allergic reactions, and 57 with anaphylaxis were included in the study. This represented incidences of 9.3:1000 ED presentations for generalised allergic reactions and 1:1000 for anaphylaxis. There were no fatalities. In anaphylaxis cases, a cause was recognised in 68.4%. Cutaneous features were present in 82.5%. A past history of asthma was reported in 36.8%. Adrenaline was used in 39.3% of severe anaphylaxis cases. The ED alone definitively cared for 97.8% of all patients. Follow up was inadequate in cases of anaphylaxis.
Conclusions: This is the first reported incidence figure for paediatric anaphylaxis ED presentations in Australia, and is less than that reported in adults in the same local population. However, the incidence of generalised allergic reactions of 9.3:1000 was greater than in the adults. Virtually all paediatric allergic cases may be managed in the ED alone, provided that the importance of specialist follow up, particularly for severe anaphylaxis, is recognised.
- ED, emergency department
- GAR, generalised allergic reaction
- angioneurotic oedema
- immediate hypersensitivity
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Published Online First 24 November 2005
Competing interests: none