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Children   A potentially lifesaving information

Parents are often ill-informed about dangerous food-allergy emergencies

Children food allergyMany parents of children with food allergies say doctors did not discuss emergency care for their youngsters, a new study finds.

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It's crucial that parents have a written emergency plan for home and school, the study authors said.

"This is potentially lifesaving information," study author Dr. Ruchi Gupta, an associate professor in pediatrics at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago, said in a university news release.

"Physicians need to make sure patients understand when and how to use epinephrine and that they have an emergency action plan," she added.

Gupta's team surveyed 859 Chicago-area parents of children with food allergies. Less than 70 percent said their child's allergist explained when to use epinephrine, and less than 40 percent said their child's pediatrician did so, the study found.

Even fewer parents said they were shown how to use an epinephrine auto-injector or received a written emergency plan from their child's allergist or pediatrician, according to the study published recently in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology: In Practice.

The auto-injector is used to treat life-threatening allergic reactions. And a written emergency plan describes common symptoms of a food allergy reaction and what to do, depending on whether a child has mild or severe symptoms, the study authors explained in the news release.

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