FOOD ALLERGY: a burden carried by more than 17 million Europeans
- In Europe, 1 out of every 20 children has one or more food allergies
- In the last decade, the cases of food allergies have doubled and the number of hospitalisations caused by severe allergic reactions has increased 7-fold
- More awareness and education is needed to improve management of food allergies and anaphylaxis
Zurich, 10 March 2015 – With more than 17 million of Europeans suffering from allergies1, food allergy is one of the most common allergic diseases. As the prevalence of food allergy is greater among children than adults2, food allergy has been recognised as a major paediatric health problem in western countries. The number of hospital admissions for severe allergic reaction3 in children has increased 7-fold in the past 10 years in Europe4.
“Food allergy is not a trivial disease. No cure has been found yet and the disease is so unpredictable that it often causes anxiety in patients and caregivers, leading to social exclusion because of the fear of eating dangerous foods by mistake. Only clear information on ingredients and disease management can help food allergy patients”, says Breda Flood, EFA President.
Food allergy is a major public health problem: governments and the general public are expected to face increasing direct and indirect costs, due to its major effects on lifestyle and quality of life4,5.
The Beware of Allergy campaign highlights the increasing incidence and burden of food allergy and of severe allergic reactions such as anaphylaxis and calls on patients, healthcare professionals and pharmacists to familiarise themselves how to recognise early and manage these diseases.
“By focusing on education for food allergy prevention, early diagnosis and correct management, EAACI hopes to help patients and their families to better control their food allergy and improve their quality of life and to increase the resources allocated by the society to manage the allergy epidemic”, says Antonella Muraro, EAACI Secretary General and President Elect. Prof. Muraro has also coordinated the publication of the Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Guidelines, to translate best science into best practice.
Prompt recognition and management of severe allergic reactions are of utmost importance as such reactions can be fatal. Caregivers, teachers and parents should be provided with information on how to manage severe allergic reactions, including adrenaline auto-injectors and instructions on how and when to use it6. It is crucial to better inform schools and restaurants staff so they can help patients avoid accidental exposure and make appropriate food choices6.