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Increasing Emergency Department Visits for Anaphylaxis in the US

Published: January/Feb Issue of In Practice

Anaphylaxis is a potentially life-threatening systemic allergic reaction. While the Emergency Department (ED) serves as a front line for the diagnosis and treatment of anaphylaxis, few studies have examined the incidence of anaphylaxis-related ED visits.

In a recent article published in The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology: In Practice, Motosue and colleagues aimed to characterize trends in anaphylaxis rates by evaluating anaphylaxis-related ED visits from 2005 to 2014 using a large nationwide administrative claims database.

In this study of more than 56,000 ED visits for anaphylaxis, rates of anaphylaxis ED visits increased by 101% from 2005 through 2014. Rates of ED visits for anaphylaxis increased in all age groups with the largest increase in children 5 to 17 years (196% increase). Mirroring rising trends of food allergies in children, rates of food-related anaphylaxis increased by 124% with the largest increases in patients aged 5 to 17 years (285% increase). Similarly, anaphylaxis due to medications increased by 212%.  Although the rates of medication-related anaphylaxis was highest in patients 65 years of age and older, the highest the rates of increase were seen among young patients, including children 0 to 4 years (479% increase). This increase in medication-related anaphylaxis in children represents a novel finding.  
The findings of this study of one of the largest contemporary cohorts of US patients suggest that ED visits for anaphylaxis are increasing, with the highest rates in children. Further research is needed to enhance the diagnosis and management of anaphylaxis especially in young patients.

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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