Number of children admitted to hospital with severe allergic reactions up 72% over five years

In children under 10 there has been an increase of 200 per cent 

Sophie Gallagher
Thursday 14 November 2019 18:04 GMT
(Getty Images/iStockphoto)

There has been a 72 per cent rise in hospital admissions in the last five years for children suffering severe allergic reactions, new figures show.

The NHS data, obtained by the parents of Natasha Ednan-Laperouse who died after eating a Pret A Manger baguette in 2018, shows there were 1,746 admissions for under 18s in anaphylactic shock in 2018-2019 compared with 1,1015 in 2013-2014.

In children aged 10 and under there has been an even greater increase of 200 per cent from 110 admissions to 330.

The data showed clear regional differences, with the highest increase in admissions seen in London where the number rose 167 per cent. Second highest was the East Midlands with an increase of 145 per cent across the period.

The East of England came third in the list, where the rise was 84 per cent, followed by West Midlands (59 per cent), North West (56 per cent), Yorkshire and the Humber (50 per cent), South West (24 per cent) and South East (22 per cent). In the North East the number remained static.

Experts say this rise is not simply due to increased awareness or better diagnoses and that there are other factors at play.

Hasan Arshad, professor of allergy and clinical immunology at the University of Southampton, said: “These new figures confirm what we know is a worrying increase in severe food allergy.

“For far too long, allergies have been considered a minor inconvenience. It is time for us all to focus on preventing and curing allergy.”

Ednan-Laperouse died in 2016 at the age of 15 after going into anaphylactic shock when she ate an artichoke, olive and tapenade sandwich. The item contained sesame seed (to which she was allergic) but it was not labelled in the ingredients.

The NHS says anaphylaxis is a severe and potentially life-threatening reaction to a trigger such as an allergy. It says it develops suddenly and gets worse very quickly.

Symptoms include feeling lightheaded or faint, breathing difficulties, wheezing, a fast heartbeat, clammy skin, confusion, collapsing or losing consciousness.

Natasha Ednan-Laperouse’s parents are campaigning for a change in the law around food labelling to make it mandatory that all pre-packaged foods carry a full list of ingredients.

In June the government announced ‘Natasha’s law’ will come into force in 2021.

The family set up the Natasha Allergy Research Foundation to fund research into curing life-threatening allergies.

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