Background: Food allergy is the most common cause of anaphylaxis outside the hospital setting.
Objective: We sought to determine the rate, circumstances, and risk factors for repeated doses of epinephrine in the treatment of food-induced anaphylaxis in children.
Methods: Anonymous questionnaires were distributed to families of children with food allergies during allergy outpatient visits to a food allergy referral center. Demographic information, allergy and reaction history, and details regarding the last 2 anaphylactic reactions requiring epinephrine were collected.
Results: A total of 413 questionnaires were analyzed. Seventy-eight children (median, 4.5 years of age; range, 0.5-17.5 years) reported 95 reactions for which epinephrine was administered. Two doses were administered in 12 (13%) and 3 doses in an additional 6 (6%) reactions treated with epinephrine. Peanut, tree nuts, and cow's milk were responsible for >75% of reactions requiring epinephrine. Patients receiving multiple doses of epinephrine more often had asthma (P = .027) than children receiving a single dose. The amount of food ingested or a delay in the initial administration of epinephrine were not risk factors for receiving multiple doses. The second dose of epinephrine was administered by a health care professional in 94% of reactions.
Conclusion: In this referral population of children and adolescents with multiple food allergies, 19% of food-induced anaphylactic reactions were treated with more than 1 dose of epinephrine. Prospective studies are necessary to identify risk factors for severe anaphylaxis and to establish rational guidelines for prescribing multiple epinephrine autoinjectors for children with food allergy.