Saturday 24 August 2019

'Unprecedented' - schoolboy died from allergic reaction after cheese thrown at him, inquest hears

Karanbir Cheema
Karanbir Cheema

Thomas Hornall

The case of a schoolboy who died from an allergic reaction after cheese was thrown on him is "unprecedented", a specialist has said.

Karanbir Cheema, who had multiple allergies including to dairy, wheat, gluten, egg, milk and tree nuts, collapsed at his school in west London on June 28 2017.

The 13-year-old was taken to hospital in a life-threatening condition but died almost two weeks later with his parents by his side at Great Ormond Street Hospital on July 9.

Dr Adam Fox, paediatric allergy consultant at Evelina London Children's Hospital, told the inquest into his death on Friday: "Where this case is extraordinarily unusual is the nature of the event that led to the anaphylaxis.

"Because severe allergic reactions through skin contact are very very uncommon indeed, and if it was skin contact alone that caused, in this case fatal, anaphylaxis, I believe that to be unprecedented.

"I have been unable to find any case reports. I've canvassed widely around this and I'm not aware of any fatal cases."

He told St Pancras Coroner's Court there were cases of other children having severe reactions through skin contact, but none of them died.

The teenager who threw the cheese which landed on Karanbir's neck has told the inquest he was only "playing around" and thought he was allergic only to bread.

Karanbir, who also suffered from eczema, was reported to have scratched at his neck so much that blood was visible, the inquest has heard.

Dr Fox went on: "In this case there's a clear description of contact first, then a scratching would suggest that was the focus of this allergic reaction.

"Further scratching and degrading of the skin barrier could have led to further contact."

Other factors making him more likely to have a severe reaction were being male, of Asian origin, a teenager, and having hay fever, he added.

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