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An update on epidemiology of anaphylaxis in children and adults

Koplin, Jennifer J.; Martin, Pamela E.; Allen, Katrina J.

Current Opinion in Allergy and Clinical Immunology: October 2011 - Volume 11 - Issue 5 - p 492–496
doi: 10.1097/ACI.0b013e32834a41a1
Special commentary

Purpose of review The purpose of the present review is to describe the epidemiology of food-induced, medication-induced, drug-induced, and insect sting-induced anaphylaxis; to summarize recent changes in the incidence of anaphylaxis internationally; and to discuss recent insights into potential risk factors for anaphylaxis.

Recent findings Recent studies confirm that the incidence of anaphylaxis, particularly food-induced anaphylaxis, is increasing world-wide. The rise in anaphylaxis incidence appears most pronounced in children under the age of 5 years, which is also the age group most at risk of hospitalization for food-induced anaphylaxis. Identification of factors that may increase the risk of episodes of anaphylaxis remains an important research priority. Recently, two large cohort studies using data from electronic medical records confirmed that individuals with asthma are at higher risk of anaphylaxis and those with severe asthma have the highest risk of all. With respect to modifiable lifestyle factors, several studies have demonstrated a link between latitude and anaphylaxis, with areas with less year-round sunlight reporting a higher prevalence of food-induced anaphylaxis.

Summary Reports of an increasing incidence of anaphylaxis internationally highlight the need for identification of modifiable risk factors for anaphylaxis. Emerging evidence suggests that low vitamin D levels may be associated with risk of anaphylaxis and food allergy; however, further studies are required to confirm this.

aMurdoch Childrens Research Institute

bDepartment of Paediatrics, The University of Melbourne

cDepartment of Allergy and Immunology, Royal Children's Hospital, Melbourne, Australia

Correspondence to A/Professor Katrina J Allen, Department of Allergy and Immunology, The Royal Children's Hospital, Flemington Road, Parkville 3052, Victoria, AustraliaTel: +613 9345 4870; fax: +613 9345 4848; e-mail:

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