Teens have higher anaphylaxis risk than younger kids

Food allergy spurred the majority of these anaphylactic events

HOUSTON — Although adolescents are better at taking care of themselves than young children, high school kids are more apt to experience an extreme allergic reaction. Data from 6,001 U.S. schools show that 724 of their students required treatment with an epinephrine injection during the 2013–14 school year. Nearly half of those kids were in high school, researchers reported February 23 at the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology annual meeting.

Food allergy caused the majority of these anaphylactic events, potentially fatal allergic reactions that require immediate treatment. Among students overall, insect bites or stings were the second most common ascertained cause. But the cause of many anaphylaxis episodes was a mystery, said Susan Hogue of RTI Health Solutions of Research Triangle Park, N.C., who presented the findings.

Coauthor Martha White of the Institute for Asthma and Allergy in Wheaton, Md., said several reasons might explain high-schoolers’ higher anaphylaxis rates. Teens are less supervised than young kids, have more access to vending machines, often leave school for lunch and could therefore be more apt to sample unfamiliar foods.

The findings are part of a study to gauge the use of epinephrine injector “pens” in schools. The study was supported by EpiPen marketer Mylan, which provided the devices to schools participating in the study.

Researchers surveyed extreme allergic reactions to food, insect bites, medications and other causes at 6,001 schools across the United States. S. Hogue et al/AAAAI 2015

Editor’s note: This story was upated March 12, 2015, to correct that Mylan markets, not makes, the  EpiPen.

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