Canberra parents lack allergy awareness: Study

March 17, 2009

Nearly four per cent of ACT kindergarten children have a peanut allergy and while the region's schools are well prepared to cope with this, some parents are taking inappropriate action when dealing with their child's allergy, according to a new study.

The research was a co-operative study by the Academic Unit of General Practice and Community Health at The Australian National University's Medical School and ACT Health. It surveyed 3851 children in the region to discover the prevalence of peanut and nut allergies, what management systems were in place in schools and how viewed and reacted to their child's .

Professor Marjan Kljakovic of the ANU Medical School said the study - probably the largest of its kind in the southern hemisphere - indicated that worries about the rate of peanut and nut allergy were well-founded.

"Our study shows that 3.8 per cent of five year olds in the ACT have a history of - that's a high number of children," he said. "However, while there's a lot of hype about peanut allergy, it's still relatively uncommon."

The study showed that 94 per cent of local schools were aware of their students' allergies and 76 per cent had a management procedure in place for the school to act when the had an allergic reaction. However, Professor Kljakovic said that some of the responses indicated that the public health messages that were getting through to schools were not making it through to the region's parents.

"The study showed two things of concern. The first is that action on food allergy was influenced by the level of worry the parent had about their child's allergy. In other words, the less worried parents were about food allergies, the less likely they were to observe their child having symptoms and to act on them.

"The second concern is that some parents reacted inappropriately following seeing their child having an allergic reaction to peanut. In such cases, it is not appropriate to 'watch and wait for the reaction to subside', 'induce vomiting in the child' or 'apply calamine lotion to the skin', as some parents seemed to think.

"Parents should administer oral antihistamines as soon as they notice their child having an allergic response to peanuts, and the symptoms could include hives on the skin, swelling around the mouth, lips or eyes, abdominal pain or vomiting. If the child has a history of severe anaphylactic reaction to peanut, with further symptoms including collapse or wheezy breathing, then an adrenalin auto-injector should be administered. All children should be sent to their GP following an allergic reaction, who will most likely refer the child for specialist tests," said Professor Kljakovic.

More information: The study, The parent-reported prevalence and management of peanut and nut allergy in school children in the Australian Capital Territory, has been published in Journal of Paediatrics and Child Health.

Source: Research Australia (news : web)

Related Stories

Recommended for you

Creation of synthetic horsepox virus could lead to more effective smallpox vaccine

January 19, 2018
UAlberta researchers created a new synthetic virus that could lead to the development of a more effective vaccine against smallpox. The discovery demonstrates how techniques based on the use of synthetic DNA can be used to ...

Study ends debate over role of steroids in treating septic shock

January 19, 2018
The results from the largest ever study of septic shock could improve treatment for critically ill patients and save health systems worldwide hundreds of millions of dollars each year.

New approach could help curtail hospitalizations due to influenza infection

January 18, 2018
More than 700,000 Americans were hospitalized due to illnesses associated with the seasonal flu during the 2014-15 flu season, according to federal estimates. A radical new approach to vaccine development at UCLA may help ...

Flu may be spread just by breathing, new study shows; coughing and sneezing not required

January 18, 2018
It is easier to spread the influenza virus (flu) than previously thought, according to a new University of Maryland-led study released today. People commonly believe that they can catch the flu by exposure to droplets from ...

Zika virus damages placenta, which may explain malformed babies

January 18, 2018
Though the Zika virus is widely known for a recent outbreak that caused children to be born with microencephaly, or having a small head, and other malformations, scientists have struggled to explain how the virus affects ...

Certain flu virus mutations may compensate for fitness costs of other mutations

January 18, 2018
Seasonal flu viruses continually undergo mutations that help them evade the human immune system, but some of these mutations can reduce a virus's potency. According to new research published in PLOS Pathogens, certain mutations ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.