BASKING RIDGE, N.J. , Dec. 18, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- Findings from an online survey released today by Mylan Specialty L.P., the fully-integrated specialty pharmaceutical business of Mylan Inc. (Nasdaq: MYL), reveal that, of those surveyed, more than half (55%) of children with life-threatening allergies have experienced anaphylaxis (a life-threatening allergic reaction) during a winter holiday event, a statistic that rises to 70% among families in urban areas. This holiday season, parents can give their children and those around them a gift they can put to good use – a lesson in preparedness to help avoid allergic triggers. The survey, conducted by Harris Interactive and commissioned by Mylan Specialty, included more than 300 U.S. parents of children with life-threatening allergies and found that nearly 90% of their children have holiday events planned with friends and family or at school. When asked about habits surrounding how they help prevent or prepare for anaphylaxis during these activities, nearly all parents are taking some type of proactive measure. However, in their self-reporting, less than 60% of parents take some of the commonly recommended measures: talking to their children about avoiding allergens by reviewing food labels (57%); ensuring those they are celebrating with are aware of their allergies (53%) and having access to epinephrine auto-injectors at all times (56%). Anaphylaxis is a life-threatening allergic reaction that is rapid in onset and may cause death either through swelling that shuts off airways or through a significant drop in blood pressure. Avoidance of allergic triggers is the critical first step to help prevent anaphylaxis; however, accidental exposure may still happen. To help parents be better prepared during the holidays, and throughout the year, parents are urged to have an anaphylaxis action plan and review it with their child . An anaphylaxis action plan includes avoiding known allergens, recognizing symptoms, having access to two epinephrine auto-injectors and seeking immediate emergency medical care. "While the incidence of anaphylaxis during holiday events is disturbing, perhaps more alarming is the low incidence of preparedness. The fact is that for people at risk for anaphylaxis it can happen anywhere and at any time," said Todd A. Mahr, M.D., chair of the Section of Allergy and Immunology of the American Academy of Pediatrics. "As a physician and a parent of a child with life-threatening allergies, I am encouraging others to revisit their anaphylaxis action plan and to ensure access to appropriate treatment in the event anaphylaxis occurs – not being prepared is just not an option." According to food allergy guidelines released in December 2010 by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), a division of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), epinephrine is the only first-line treatment in all cases of anaphylaxis (including from food allergies) and should be available at all times, in the form of two doses, to people at risk for anaphylaxis. According to the guidelines, if experiencing anaphylaxis, a person should use an epinephrine auto-injector and seek immediate emergency medical attention. EpiPen ® (epinephrine) Auto-Injector has been the number one prescribed epinephrine auto-injector for more than 20 years and constitutes more than 99% of the epinephrine auto-injector market. Carrying an epinephrine auto-injector does not prevent patients from having an anaphylactic reaction; hence, patients must avoid their allergens at all times. "Food is very much a part of our nation's holiday celebrations, and that means families managing potentially life-threatening allergies need to be extra vigilant at this time of year," said Heather Bresch, CEO of Mylan. "To support parents we are encouraging them to have a checklist to help avoid allergens and to be prepared if anaphylaxis occurs." FARE – formerly the Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Network – has compiled the following tips that could help alleviate some of the worries that go along with the holiday season:
- RSVP – ASAP! Be a great guest by contacting your host as soon as your invitation arrives. Start by communicating gently and by educating others; remember, your host is hoping to plan the "perfect" holiday party or meal.
- The rules. Go over "the rules" for parties with your kids in advance so that the most important safety rules, such as not eating a food unless he or she knows the ingredients, will be fresh in their minds when they arrive.
- Make it and they will eat . Offer to bring safe food so that you know there will be something there that your child can eat and your host doesn't have to worry about separate food preparations. Share dishes that would be allergen-free.
- Ship ahead. If you're flying to visit friends or family, you may want to make some simple allergy-free foods that travel well and ship them to your host ahead of time.
- Start the trend. Include an ingredient listing card with your food contribution to the party. Also, add an ingredient card to all food gifts you send out from your kitchen. This is a great opportunity to raise awareness at a party and with friends.
- Tag-team parenting. If your whole family is invited to a party, plan ahead with your spouse to divide the task of supervising your young child. With designated "on duty" times, your child will be supervised, and each parent will have time to socialize. This keeps little hands away from allergens that may be out (such as a bowl of chocolates or nuts).
- Carry medications. Per the NIAID food allergy guidelines, always have immediate access to two doses of epinephrine just in case unrecognized food allergens are hiding in holiday treats.