Paediatric anaphylaxis in a Singaporean children cohort: changing food allergy triggers over time

Asia Pac Allergy. 2013 Jan;3(1):29-34. doi: 10.5415/apallergy.2013.3.1.29. Epub 2013 Jan 30.


Background: We have noticed changes in paediatric anaphylaxis triggers locally in Singapore.

Objective: We aimed to describe the demographic characteristics, clinical features, causative agents and management of children presenting with anaphylaxis.

Methods: This is a retrospective study of Singaporean children presenting with anaphylaxis between January 2005 and December 2009 to a tertiary paediatric hospital.

Results: One hundred and eight cases of anaphylaxis in 98 children were included. Food was the commonest trigger (63%), followed by drugs (30%), whilst 7% were idiopathic. Peanut was the top food trigger (19%), followed by egg (12%), shellfish (10%) and bird's nest (10%). Ibuprofen was the commonest cause of drug induced anaphylaxis (50%), followed by paracetamol (15%) and other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs, 12%). The median age of presentation for all anaphylaxis cases was 7.9 years old (interquartile range 3.6 to 10.8 years), but food triggers occurred significantly earlier compared to drugs (median 4.9 years vs. 10.5 years, p < 0.05). Mucocutaneous (91%) and respiratory features (88%) were the principal presenting symptoms. Drug anaphylaxis was more likely to result in hypotension compared to food anaphylaxis (21.9% vs. 2.7%, Fisher's exact probability < 0.01). There were 4 reported cases (3.6%) of biphasic reaction occurring within 24 h of anaphylaxis.

Conclusion: Food anaphylaxis patterns have changed over time in our study cohort of Singaporean children. Peanuts allergy, almost absent a decade ago, is currently the top food trigger, whilst seafood and bird's nest continue to be an important cause of food anaphylaxis locally. NSAIDs and paracetamol hypersensitivity are unique causes of drug induced anaphylaxis locally.

Keywords: Anaphylaxis; Drug allergy; Food allergy; Paediatrics.