Epinephrine treatment is infrequent and biphasic reactions are rare in food-induced reactions during oral food challenges in children

J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2009 Dec;124(6):1267-72. doi: 10.1016/j.jaci.2009.10.006.


Background: Data about epinephrine use and biphasic reactions in childhood food-induced anaphylaxis during oral food challenges are scarce.

Objective: To determine the prevalence and risk factors of reactions requiring epinephrine and the rate of biphasic reactions during oral food challenges (OFCs) in children.

Methods: Reaction details of positive OFCs in children between 1999 and 2007 were collected by using a computerized database. Selection of patients for OFCs was generally predicated on < or =50% likelihood of a positive challenge and a low likelihood of a severe reaction on the basis of the clinical history, specific IgE levels, and skin prick tests.

Results: A total of 436 of 1273 OFCs resulted in a reaction (34%). Epinephrine was administered in 50 challenges (11% of positive challenges, 3.9% overall) for egg (n = 15, 16% of positive OFCs to egg), milk (n = 14, 12%), peanut (n = 10, 26%), tree nuts (n = 4, 33%), soy (n = 3, 7%), wheat (n = 3, 9%), and fish (n = 1, 9%). Reactions requiring epinephrine occurred in older children (median, 7.9 vs 5.8 years; P < .001) and were more often caused by peanuts (P = .006) compared with reactions not treated with epinephrine. There was no difference in the sex, prevalence of asthma, history of anaphylaxis, specific IgE level, skin prick tests, or amount of food administered. Two doses of epinephrine were required in 3 of 50 patients (6%) reacting to wheat, cow's milk, and pistachio. There was 1 (2%) biphasic reaction. No reaction resulted in life-threatening respiratory or cardiovascular compromise.

Conclusion: Older age and reactions to peanuts were risk factors for anaphylaxis during oral food challenges. Reactions requiring multiple doses of epinephrine and biphasic reactions were infrequent.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Oral
  • Adolescent
  • Adrenergic Agonists / therapeutic use*
  • Allergens / adverse effects
  • Allergens / immunology*
  • Allergens / therapeutic use
  • Anaphylaxis / drug therapy*
  • Anaphylaxis / immunology
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Desensitization, Immunologic
  • Epinephrine / therapeutic use*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Immunoglobulin E / blood
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Peanut Hypersensitivity / drug therapy*
  • Peanut Hypersensitivity / immunology
  • Skin Tests


  • Adrenergic Agonists
  • Allergens
  • Immunoglobulin E
  • Epinephrine