New research finds fatal anaphylaxis for a food allergic person is rarer than accidental death in the general population.

New research finds fatal anaphylaxis for a food allergic person is rarer than accidental death in the general population.

  • 20 July 2015
  • News

A new paper released on 25th November 2013, estimates how common death from anaphylaxis is based on data from 13 studies worldwide. 

Researchers from Imperial College, London, calculated that for any person with a food allergy the chance of dying from anaphylaxis in one year is 1.81 in a million.  For children and young people aged 0-19, the risk is 3.25 in a million.  By comparison in Europe the risk of dying from accidental causes is 324 in a million over a year.

Dr Robert Boyle, from the Department of Medicine at Imperial, who lead the study, said; "Everyone has heard stories of people who have died suddenly from a severe allergic reaction, and these stories are frightening. But events like this appear to be very rare, and it's helpful to put that risk in perspective. “

Comment from the Anaphylaxis Campaign

We welcome the results of this study and we hope it reassures people living with severe allergies.  However, despite the low risk of fatality from anaphylaxis, the challenges  and risks to those affected by severe allergies should not be underestimated, nor should the anxiety and stress experienced in everyday life by those living with the condition and their carers.

Whilst dying from anaphylaxis is rare, having an anaphylactic reaction is not. Children’s hospital admissions for food allergy have increased by 600 per cent in the past two decades and any severe allergic reaction for a child or an adult is hugely distressing and stressful

A reaction can involve a many symptoms, from all-over itchy hives, swelling of the face and airways, difficulty breathing, swallowing and speaking, severe asthma, abdominal pain and emotions of feeling doom and panic.  The severe physical symptoms can require administration of an adrenaline auto-injector and urgent hospital treatment.

To see how severe allergy can affect lives watch this film of a mum talking about her young daughter's allergy.

Our advice

Severe allergy is a serious condition,  but it is manageable with a calm and committed attitude. 

The main points are;

·         If you are at risk see your GP and ask for a referral to an allergy clinic.  For children, guidelines exist showing what should be expected from your doctor.  Go

·         If you are prescribed an adrenaline injector, learn how to use it and carry it everywhere at all times

·         Do your research.  If the allergen that affects you is a food, read food labels scrupulously and ask direct questions wherever food is served.

 Note:  The study is published in Clinical and Experimental Allergy. It was funded by Lincoln Medical and the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Imperial Biomedical Research Centre.