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Severe allergic reactions increase in children in England over the past five years

Natasha Ednan-LaperouseImage copyright
Family Wire / PA Wire

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Natasha Ednan-Laperouse died in 2016 after eating a hidden sesame baguette

The number of children admitted to hospital in England with a severe allergic reaction has increased every year over the past five years.

The NHS figures show that 1,746 children were treated for anaphylactic shock in 2018-19, compared to 1,015 in 2013-14.

Natasha Ednan-Laperouse's parents, who died in 2016 after eating a sesame baguette, called the increase "deeply alarming."

Scientists say environmental factors may be responsible for more allergies.

When adults with severe allergic reactions treated at the hospital were also included, the numbers increased from 4,107 cases to 5,497 in five years.

Children under 10 are likely to be affected by anaphylaxis, with 1,018 admitted to hospital last year – compared with 601 in 2013-14.

Anaphylaxis is a serious allergic reaction that can be fatal.

The most common causes of severe allergic reactions are foods such as nuts, fish and shellfish, but they can also be triggered by wasp and bee stings, drugs and dairy products.

Even the slightest exposure to one of these allergens may be sufficient to trigger an anaphylactic reaction and cause breathing difficulties, rapid heartbeat and loss of consciousness.

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Getty Images

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Sesame is one of 14 allergens consumers should know in food products.

It is believed that the increase in allergies is not simply due to the fact that society becomes more aware of them and better diagnoses them.

Instead, scientists believe factors such as dietary changes, exposure to microbes and pollution can play a major role in growth – especially in the Western lifestyle.

& # 39; Allergic Emergency & # 39;

Natasha's mother, Tanya Ednan-Laperouse, said: "These scary numbers show that we are facing an allergy emergency.

"The number of children with allergies and severe allergic reactions is increasing year by year at a deeply alarming rate."

Hasan Arshad, professor of allergy and clinical immunology at Southampton University, said the numbers confirm "a worrying increase in severe food allergy."

"We should not forget that behind each of these numbers is a child or adult who has suffered the most serious consequences of an anaphylactic shock," he said.

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Media CaptionNew Ingredient Proposals: "This will help many allergy sufferers," say Nadim and Tanya Ednan-Laperouse

Fifteen-year-old Natasha had a severe and fatal allergic reaction to an artichoke, olive and tapenade baguette bought from Pret to Manger.

She was allergic to sesame seed, but this was not listed on the product label.

Although her father, Nadim, administered two injections of EpiPen, Natasha died in a hospital within hours.

Natasha's parents campaigned for a change in the law to require prepackaged growers to list all their ingredients. This law will enter into force in 2021.

So far, delivery and restaurants have only needed to tell customers if any of the 14 most dangerous allergens – including peanuts, eggs and milk – are contained in them.

Natasha's parents also created the Natasha Allergy Research Foundation, with the ultimate goal of finding a cure for allergies.

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