Study: More than half of kids don’t get adrenaline until they get to hospital

parents giving epinephrine

A recent study carried out in the US showed that less than half of kids had received a shot of adrenaline prior to arriving at the emergency department or urgent care centre. The study was carried out at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio and looked at kids between the ages of 0 and 25 years.

The study also showed that kids were more likely to receive adrenaline if they had a reaction at school than if the reaction occurred at home.

Those who had received adrenaline were sent home sooner than those who hadn’t, showing that early administration of adrenaline is key to better outcomes in anaphylaxis.


Parents may not recognise the symptoms or remember how to give the adrenaline pen.


A previous study carried out in Canada by Dr Edmond Chan, head of the division of allergy and immunology in UBC’s department of paediatrics, tested parents reactions during allergy food tests. During the tests, kids were given very small amounts of the foods they are allergic to to see if they had grown out of the allergy. Dr Chan wanted to see if parents could recognise the symptoms of an allergic reaction and if they knew how to use the adrenaline auto-injector.

18 children had a reaction that required adrenaline, but many parents couldn’t recognise the signs or use the auto-injector properly.

“Quite often, parents would comment that they simply forgot the instructions,” he said. “Their hands were shaking and the children were screaming that they didn’t want the needle to be given.”

Some held the injector upside down, some put their thumb over the needle, some didn’t hold the injector in place for long enough.

These studies show how important it is for parents to able to recognise when their child needs adrenaline and how to give it. And also how important it is to carry your auto-injectors with you wherever you go.

“Allergists want parents, caregivers and emergency responders to know epinephrine should always be the first line of defence when treating anaphylaxis,” says allergist David Stukus, member of the ACAAI Public Relations Committee and co-author of the recent study. “Our study found that only two-thirds of those who had an epinephrine prescription had their auto injector available at the time of their allergic reaction. It’s vital to keep your epinephrine with you if you suffer from any sort of severe allergy. Anaphylaxis symptoms occur suddenly and can progress quickly. Always have a second dose with you and, when in doubt, administer it too. Anaphylaxis can be deadly if left untreated.”



Image: Flicker/Greg Friese

Disclaimer: The information provided is for informational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Allergy Lifestyle Limited (t/a) Allergy Lifestyle) uses reasonable endeavours to check the accuracy of information provided however no warranty is given that they are error-free. Always seek the advice of an allergy specialist and follow your anaphylaxis emergency care plan.

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