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Physicians knowledge of childhood food allergies needs room for improvement
Date:12/9/2009

With an estimated four to six percent of children in the U.S. suffering from food allergies, a new study shows that pediatricians and family physicians aren't always confident they have the ability to diagnose or treat food allergies.

A study published in the January 2010 issue of Pediatrics and headed by Dr. Ruchi Gupta, M.D., M.P.H., a researcher at Children's Memorial Hospital and Assistant Professor of Pediatrics at Northwestern University's Feinberg School of Medicine, brought attention to current knowledge gaps among primary care physicians in the diagnosis and management of food allergy. Researchers at Children's Memorial used the Chicago Food Allergy Research Survey for Pediatricians and Family Physicians to analyze physicians' knowledge and perceptions of food-related allergies in children. More than 400 pediatricians and family physicians across the nation responded to questions in areas ranging from the definition and diagnosis of food allergy to appropriate treatment and use of healthcare among affected children. Notably, 99 percent of those surveyed reported providing care for children with food allergy.

Participants' overall knowledge of food allergy was fair, with misconceptions and conflicting ideas commonly reported. For example, most participants incorrectly identified chronic nasal congestion as a symptom of food allergy. The majority of physicians were proficient in identifying common childhood food allergies however they were less knowledgeable about the frequencies with which these allergies are outgrown. While the severity of food allergies and potential for anaphylaxis was acknowledged among those surveyed, few knew the appropriate dosage of epinephrine in the treatment of anaphylaxis or that teenagers are at a greater risk of fatality due to anaphylaxis compared to younger children. Such inconsistencies among providers likely contribute to uncertainties among caregivers and families.

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Contact: Julie Pesch
jpesch@childrensmemorial.org
773-880-3055
Children's Memorial Hospital
Source:Eurekalert

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