Greenhawt says most airlines still serve peanuts and tree nuts or snacks and meals with peanuts or tree nuts included. Canada is the only country with any formal policy in place, which requires a 3-row buffer zone with advance notification only on Air Canada flights, he says.
"So these behaviors are simple, practical measures which may offer some protection and reduce anxiety until formal policies are implemented."
The study also found that epinephrine, a common and effective treatment, was drastically underused in-flight. Only 13.3 percent of passengers reporting a reaction received epinephrine as treatment. Flight crews were notified regarding 50.1 percent of reactions. In a similar study of US passengers five years ago, Greenhawt noted a similarly low rate of epinephrine use.
"Despite that 98 percent of passengers had a personal source of epinephrine available, epinephrine was underused to treat a reaction. Flight crews were not always readily alerted to reactions when they occurred, but interestingly, when they were notified, it was associated with a higher odds that epinephrine was used to treat the reaction," Greenhawt says.
Interestingly, nationality was not a significant factor influencing the use of epinephrine as treatment.
"We still think the risk of an in-flight reaction is small, but it's hard to imagine a more helpless situation than having a reaction while you're at 35,000 feet in an airplane," Greenhawt says. "But this study identifies some things passengers can do to reduce their anxiety. We want them to fly. It can help improve their quality of life."
"But more importantly, these findings provide a starting point for airlines to consider in terms of their own policies, where they could work with passengers to mitigate risk. I think that consideration for training crew to identify anaphylaxis is another important potential measure to consider given that crew invol
|Contact: Mary F. Masson|
University of Michigan Health System