Only one in three pre-schools keep life-saving allergy pens
Only one in three pre-school facilities keep life-saving allergy treatments such as EpiPens or antihistamines on the premises, a new study has found.
A study from University College Hospital Galway of just under 100 early years' service providers in the west of Ireland found that 3pc of pre-school children had a food allergy. The most common food allergies among the children were to milk, egg and peanuts.
The research, published in the 'Irish Medical Journal' found one in six pre-school facilities have reported children experiencing food allergic reactions on site.
But the researchers found only one in three (32pc) of the pre-school, Montessori and child-care facilities surveyed stored medication for the treatment of food allergies on the premises.
In those premises, the majority had injectable adrenaline pens, followed by salbutamol inhalers and antihistamines.
The study of 98 pre-school facilities in Galway city and county identified "significant areas for improvement in the management of food allergic children in Early Years Services".
"Written emergency action plans were available in 47pc of facilities. Medications were not kept on site in 63pc of facilities," said researchers from Western Training Scheme in General Practice. "Only approximately half of facilities stored antihistamines. Irish Food Allergy Network guidelines advocate that all such children should have these medications available."
In the case of anaphylaxis - a serious allergic reaction which can be deadly - pre-filled adrenaline auto-injectors can be used in emergencies to prevent symptoms worsening.
The injectors, commonly known by one branded type, an EpiPen, can be life-saving but the study found a "minority of facilities" stored adrenaline auto-injectors (AAI).
"Among those that did, only 13pc stored two AAI. It is recommended that two AAI always be available if deemed to be indicated in case difficulty administering the first dose", said the study.
It commented that almost all staff said they would like more information and more training on anaphylaxis management.