The number of Australian children seeking urgent hospital care due to food allergies surged in the early part of the century leaving doctors baffled, a study revealed on Monday.
Between 2005 and 2015 the number of children presenting to emergency departments with food allergy-related problems in the Australian State of Victoria, went from 2,368 over the course of a year, to 4,263.
The increase was particularly marked in children aged 0-4, which accounted for around half of cases, while the proportion of presentations triaged as requiring urgent care also increasing from 51 percent to 63 percent.
Doctors have been unable to attribute a reason to the drastic increase, but are concerned that it may cause hospital resources to become stretched, resulting in poorer health outcomes.
The study, published in the Medical Journal of Australia (MJA), was led by Professor Harriet Hiscock, director of the Royal Children’s Hospital Health Services Research Unit and group leader, Health Services, Murdoch Children’s Research Institute.
“While the reason for the increased burden is not clear — that is, whether the prevalence of allergy had increased, management plans had changed, or access to community services was reduced — the consequence is greater demand on emergency services across Melbourne,” the article said.
“This may lead families to consider alternative avenues, which can lead to poor allergy management and the need for emergency care.”