The results of a large study indicate that many parents don’t recall their child’s physician giving them information on treating their child’s allergies.

When a child has a food allergy, it’s critical for pediatricians and allergists to show parents when and how to use an epinephrine auto-injector and to provide a written emergency food allergy action plan for home and school. It is essential in case of a life-threatening reaction.

But many parents don’t recall their children’s doctors giving them this information, according to a large new study from Northwestern Medicine and the Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago.

“These points need to be hammered home by the physician at every visit,” said Dr. Ruchi Gupta, an associate professor in pediatrics at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine and a physician at Lurie Children’s Hospital. “This is potentially lifesaving information. Physicians need to make sure patients understand when and how to use epinephrine and that they have an emergency action plan.”

An epinephrine auto-injector is used to treat life-threatening allergic reactions (anaphylaxis.) The written emergency action plan describes, for all potential caregivers, common symptoms of a food allergy reaction and what to do if a child has mild versus severe symptoms.

This is the first large study to assess parents’ perceptions of care for a child’s food allergy. It was published January 12 in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology: In Practice.

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