Epidemiology of anaphylaxis

Curr Opin Allergy Clin Immunol. 2009 Aug;9(4):351-6. doi: 10.1097/ACI.0b013e32832db95a.


Purpose of review: The prevalence of allergic disorders has more than doubled in the last two decades leading to increased community concern and anxiety, and unprecedented demand for allergy-specialist services. However, although allergic reactions are common, anaphylaxis is uncommon and fatal anaphylaxis is rare. This review examines recent developments in the epidemiology of anaphylaxis, focusing on new information that may assist in identifying those at increased risk of severe reactions and adverse outcomes.

Recent findings: Recent studies suggest an increase in prevalence of anaphylaxis in industrialized countries. Examination of the demographic characteristics of anaphylaxis has revealed potential approaches to better recognize those at greatest risk. Novel laboratory approaches to identify patients at increased risk of severe reactions have been suggested.

Summary: Increased knowledge of the epidemiology of anaphylaxis has provided insights into the characteristics of those patient groups most at risk of adverse outcomes. However, these characteristics have poor specificity and limited applicability for detection of at-risk individuals in the clinical setting. Further research is required to facilitate more accurate assessment of an individual's risk for anaphylaxis or fatal outcome. This would represent a major advance in clinical management and enable better allocation of existing healthcare resources.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Age Factors
  • Allergens / immunology*
  • Anaphylaxis / diagnosis
  • Anaphylaxis / epidemiology*
  • Anaphylaxis / etiology
  • Anaphylaxis / physiopathology
  • Animals
  • Biomarkers / metabolism
  • Drug Hypersensitivity / complications
  • Drug Hypersensitivity / diagnosis
  • Drug Hypersensitivity / epidemiology*
  • Drug Hypersensitivity / physiopathology
  • Food Hypersensitivity / complications
  • Food Hypersensitivity / diagnosis
  • Food Hypersensitivity / epidemiology*
  • Food Hypersensitivity / physiopathology
  • Humans
  • Hymenoptera / immunology
  • Insect Bites and Stings / complications
  • Insect Bites and Stings / diagnosis
  • Insect Bites and Stings / epidemiology*
  • Insect Bites and Stings / physiopathology
  • Prevalence
  • Prognosis
  • Risk Factors
  • Sex Factors
  • Survival Analysis


  • Allergens
  • Biomarkers