We held our conference for our healthcare professional members on Thursday 5th November 2015 at St. Thomas’ Hospital in London. The event introduced the latest research on the prevention of peanut allergies, the progression of latex allergies, allergy in adults, as well as exploring why fewer young people are using their adrenaline auto- injectors. Other useful talks included advice on how to live with allergies and how to plan meals for children with allergies.
The event was chaired by Dr Andrew Clark, who also chairs our Clinical and Scientific Panel and is a consultant in paediatric allergy at Cambridge University Hospital Trust. Dr Clark warmly welcomed all the attendees to the conference and encouraged discussion throughout the day by asking our speakers probing questions.
The first of our speakers was Gideon Lack, Professor of paediatric allergy at Kings College London, who presented the results of the Enquiring About Tolerance (EAT) and Learning Early About Peanut Allergy (LEAP) studies. The LEAP study investigated how peanut allergy could be prevented, looking at whether high risk children exposed to peanuts between the ages of 11 months and 4 years, would later develop an allergy. Professor Lack concluded that advice to avoid peanuts in early life may have been incorrect and that those who consumed them between 11 months and 4 years would be less likely to develop the allergy in the future. The EAT study looked at whether introducing certain foods early in a child’s diet alongside breastfeeding would stop them developing an allergy to those foods. Professor Lack found that delaying solid foods did not lower the risk of allergy or eczema. He urged that any baby between 3-4 months with an allergy should have a skin prick test.
Lynne Regent, CEO of the Anaphylaxis Campaign, gave an update on our work and an overview of the success of the hard-hitting #takethekit campaign, which went viral on YouTube. The event included a showing of the #takethekit video, which was very well received by the audience. Lynne detailed some of our other projects which include campaigning for generic adrenaline auto-injectors to be made available in schools and improving communication with GPs.
Lynne said “We want to be proactive with the way we work with clinicians”.
Our third speaker was Hazel Gowland, food advisor, expert researcher and trainer at the Anaphylaxis Campaign. She gave an excellent insight into what it’s like to live with allergies and gave a breakdown of the issues allergic people face every day. She concluded that allergic people had to do frequent risk assessments in order to feel safe in various situations.
Next up was Dr Nicola Brathwaite, a Consultant Paediatric Allergist who explored the progress of the latex allergy epidemic which was prevalent in the late 80s-2000s when sensitisation to latex increased dramatically. Dr Brathwaite concluded that with the decline in the use of the latex gloves, the latex allergy epidemic has subsided in the UK but is still considered an issue in developing countries.
We were pleased to welcome Tanya Wright, a specialist dietician, who provided attendees with excellent ideas and advice for recipe planning when coping with special dietary requirements. She was able to shed some light on what foods you could eat depending on your tolerance levels, so that allergic people don’t miss out unnecessarily.
Our next speaker was Dr Isabel Skypala, who is a consultant allergy dietician and clinical lead for food allergy. She discussed the development of food allergy in adults and the diagnosis process for those with suspected food allergies. Dr Skypala explained the fascinating way in which specific proteins within an allergen can be identified using a process called component resolved diagnostics.
Our final scheduled speaker was Dr Tom Marrs, a clinical lecturer in paediatric allergy, who, after a screening of the #takethekit video, explained findings suggesting why so few adolescents inject their adrenaline for anaphylaxis. Only 16-34% of patients treat anaphylaxis with adrenaline and this has been put down to issues such as feeling unable to administer adrenaline, using other medication such as antihistamines or asthma inhalers and not knowing when or whether to use the adrenaline. Dr Marrs recommended the early administering of adrenaline, and then using the other medication if needed as well as learning how to manage symptoms and know what to look out for. Getting further practical training is also recommended in order to improve the feeling of preparedness.
Finally, the campaign was delighted to welcome a surprise speaker, Dr Bill Frankland MBE, aged 103, who talked briefly about his work and delighted attendees with his anecdotes about his own personal experiences with allergy and anaphylaxis.
We would like to thank all our guest speakers, sponsors and all those who attended the conference for contributing to the day.
Our next Healthcare Professionals’ Conference is being held at City Hospital, Birmingham, on the 5th May 2016. We look forward to seeing you there.