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Allergy-related emergencies rising in the United States

Published online: June 15, 2020

The incidence of allergy-related visits to U.S. emergency departments rose a notable 14.4% between 2007 and 2015. Children under the age of 10 showed the highest relative increase, supporting the prevailing theory that allergic conditions are becoming more common in the U.S.

Carrillo-Martin, et al. and a multidisciplinary team of researchers from Mayo Clinic reported this increasing incidence of allergy-related emergency department (ED) visits across the U.S. in a recent issue of The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology: In Practice. Their findings are the result of an analysis of data from the National Hospital Ambulatory Medical Care Survey (NHAMCS).

The researchers analyzed ED visits from 2007-2015, identifying cases of acute allergic reactions, angioedema, and anaphylaxis, using ICD-9-CM codes. They categorized patients into five age groups, as well as sex, race (Black, White, other), Hispanic ethnicity, insurance status and geographic region of the U.S. Although other outpatient emergency care is available in the NHAMCS, the investigators limited the study to include only incidents recorded during an ED visit. The team compared their findings to baseline data published by previously using the NHAMCS from 1993-2004.

Throughout the 9-year study period, an estimated 10 million ED visits were associated with allergic reactions. These accounted for 0.85% of all ED visits, and illustrated an upward trend, increasing 14.4% over the study period. More women than men had allergy-related visits to the ED. More Black than White patients were treated – when analyzed per 1,000 U.S. population – indicating a disproportionate number of allergy-related emergencies occur among Black residents of the U.S. Additionally, children under the age of 10 had a higher relative risk of allergy-related ED visits, compared to patients aged 65 and older — a shift from previous reports.

The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology: In Practice is an official journal of the AAAAI, focusing on practical information for the practicing clinician.

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