BACKGROUND. Food allergy is a common pediatric problem, affecting as many as 6% of young children, yet it is unclear whether pediatricians are well prepared to manage food-induced anaphylaxis. OBJECTIVE. The purpose of this work was to assess pediatricians' knowledge of diagnosis and management of children with food-induced anaphylaxis. METHODS.A survey designed to assess food allergy diagnosis and management was mailed to a US national random sample of 1130 pediatricians. Survey questions were based on a clinical scenario involving a child having an anaphylactic reaction after ingesting peanut. Primary outcome measures included correct responses to the 11 questions about anaphylaxis. RESULTS.A total of 468 pediatricians (41%) responded to the survey. The majority of the respondents were women (58%), spent >50% of their time in a clinical setting (78%), and reported providing care for food allergy patients (86%). Overall, 70% of the pediatricians agreed that the clinical scenario was consistent with anaphylaxis, and 72% chose to administer epinephrine. However, only 56% of respondents agreed with both the diagnosis of anaphylaxis and treating with epinephrine. Most pediatricians (70%) did not recognize that a 30-minute observation period after anaphylaxis was too short. Pediatricians who reported providing care for food allergy patients were more likely to agree with the diagnosis of anaphylaxis (73% vs 59%), with treating the reaction with epinephrine (73% vs 64%), and with prescribing self-injectable epinephrine (83% vs 66%) than pediatricians who did not care for food allergy patients. The more certain that pediatricians were that the child was having an anaphylactic reaction, the more likely they were to agree with treating the reaction with epinephrine. In general, recent continuing medical education was not predictive of improved knowledge. CONCLUSION. Although the majority of pediatricians seem to have some knowledge of food-induced anaphylaxis, a substantial proportion has knowledge deficits that may hinder their ability to provide optimal care to children with food-induced anaphylaxis. Pediatricians who provide health care for patients with food allergy may be better equipped to manage food-induced anaphylaxis than those who do not. Because continuing medical education was not a significant predictor of increased knowledge, ensuring that pediatric residents develop experience managing patients with food allergies may be a better strategy to educate primary care pediatricians about food allergy.
- Food allergy
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health