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Children with Food Allergies Should Carry Two Doses of Emergency Medicine

The number of children with food allergies is on the rise.  Reactions to food allergies can vary from mild to anaphylaxis, a severe life-threatening condition.  Anaphylaxis affects at least two organ systems and can cause low blood pressure, trouble breathing, rashes, swelling, and gastrointestinal problems.  Traditionally, doctors recommended that children with food allergies carry one dose of epinephrine (EpiPen) to use as an emergency treatment in the case of a severe allergic reaction.  Experts now urge children to carry two pens because in some cases, two doses are necessary instead of one.

In a study of 1,255 children treated in the emergency room with food-related allergic reactions, researchers at Children's Hospital Boston, Massachusetts General Hospital, found that more than 50% had anaphylaxis.  Of those children with anaphylaxis treated with epinephrine, 12% required a second dose.  These findings are similar to those of smaller prior studies.  Until researchers identify the risk factors for the most severe type of allergic reactions, allergy experts urge children with food-related allergies to carry two doses of epinephrine to be on the safe side.

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