Physicians knowledge of childhood food allergies needs room for improvement

Dec 09, 2009

With an estimated four to six percent of children in the U.S. suffering from food allergies, a new study shows that pediatricians and family physicians aren't always confident they have the ability to diagnose or treat food allergies.

A study published in the January 2010 issue of Pediatrics and headed by Dr. Ruchi Gupta, M.D., M.P.H., a researcher at Children's Memorial Hospital and Assistant Professor of Pediatrics at Northwestern University's Feinberg School of Medicine, brought attention to current knowledge gaps among primary care physicians in the diagnosis and management of . Researchers at Children's Memorial used the Chicago Food Allergy Research Survey for Pediatricians and to analyze physicians' knowledge and perceptions of food-related allergies in . More than 400 pediatricians and family physicians across the nation responded to questions in areas ranging from the definition and diagnosis of food allergy to appropriate treatment and use of healthcare among affected children. Notably, 99 percent of those surveyed reported providing care for children with food allergy.

Participants' overall knowledge of food allergy was fair, with misconceptions and conflicting ideas commonly reported. For example, most participants incorrectly identified chronic nasal congestion as a symptom of food allergy. The majority of physicians were proficient in identifying common childhood food allergies however they were less knowledgeable about the frequencies with which these allergies are outgrown. While the severity of food allergies and potential for anaphylaxis was acknowledged among those surveyed, few knew the appropriate dosage of epinephrine in the treatment of anaphylaxis or that teenagers are at a greater risk of fatality due to anaphylaxis compared to younger children. Such inconsistencies among providers likely contribute to uncertainties among caregivers and families.

"Many physicians themselves reported not being comfortable with diagnosis, treatment, or interpreting labs for food allergies," says Dr. Gupta, "Understanding theses misconceptions will help us to create an intervention tool to close the knowledge gap." Dr. Gupta and her team are working to create a food allergy module that can easily be used by physicians in the office as a reference when providing care to food-allergic children.

Source: Children's Memorial Hospital

Explore further: California right-to-die bill struggling ahead of key vote

Related Stories

Students with food allergies often not prepared

Aug 06, 2008

College students with food allergies aren't avoiding the foods they know they shouldn't eat. Students of all ages are not treated with potentially life-saving epinephrine as often as they should be. And instructors, ...

Allergies are increasing in Britain

Jul 24, 2006

A government review of allergy services in Britain finds that the number of people hospitalized for allergies has more than tripled in the past 10 years.

Peanut Allergies Showing Up At Much Earlier Ages

Dec 03, 2007

Children are being exposed to peanuts and exhibiting signs of life-threatening peanut allergies at much earlier ages, according to a new study from researchers at Duke University Medical Center, who caution parents and care-givers ...

Of Mice and Peanuts: A new mouse model for peanut allergy

Jan 12, 2009

Chicago researchers report the development of a new mouse model for food allergy that mimics symptoms generated during a human allergic reaction to peanuts. The animal model provides a new research tool that will be invaluable ...

Recommended for you

'Beyond aid' in health care: Is it time for scrutiny?

7 hours ago

The UK government's investments in private hospital chains in developing countries, in the form of 'beyond aid' approaches, could actually be hindering inclusive development and need greater scrutiny, argue experts in The BM ...

Cutting health care costs isn't easy

7 hours ago

Convincing the nation's most vulnerable citizens to avoid costly emergency department visits is proving harder than expected. A new study from the University of Iowa found improving access to affordable primary ...

Marijuana users substitute alcohol at 21

8 hours ago

A recent study looked at marijuana and alcohol use in people between the ages of 18 and 24. It's probably not surprising that the results show a drastic increase in alcohol consumption in people just over ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.