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  1. Poirot, Eugenie MPH, PhD
  2. He, Fangtao MS
  3. Gould, L. Hannah PhD, MBA, MS
  4. Hadler, James L. MD, MPH


Context: Food-induced anaphylaxis is potentially fatal but preventable by allergen avoidance and manageable through immediate treatment. Considerable effort has been invested in preventing fatalities from nut exposure among school-aged children, but few population-based studies exist to guide additional prevention efforts.


Objectives: To describe the epidemiology and trends of food-related anaphylaxis requiring emergency treatment during a 15-year span in New York City when public health initiatives to prevent deaths were implemented and to understand the situational circumstances of food-related deaths.


Design/Setting/Participants: Retrospective death record review and analysis of inpatient hospital discharges and emergency department (ED) visits in New York City residents, 2000-2014.


Main Outcome: Vital statistics data, medical examiner reports, ED, and hospital discharge data were used to examine risk for death and incidence trends in medically attended food-related anaphylaxis. Potentially preventable deaths were those among persons with a known allergy to the implicated food or occurring in public settings.


Results: There were 24 deaths, (1.6 deaths/year; range: 0-5), 3049 hospitalizations, and 4014 ED visits, including 7 deaths from crustacean, 4 from peanut, and 2 each from tree nut or seeds and fish exposures. Risk for death among those hospitalized or treated in the ED was highest for persons older than 65 years and for those treated for crustacean reactions (relative risk 6.5 compared with those treated for peanuts, 95% confidence interval = 1.9-22.1). Eleven of 16 deaths with medical examiner data were potentially preventable. Hospitalizations (2000-2014) and ED visit rates (2005-2014) were highest for children and those with peanut exposure and increased across periods.


Conclusions: Deaths from food-related anaphylaxis were rare; however, rates of hospitalization and ED visits increased. Prevention efforts related to peanut allergies among children should continue, and additional attention is needed to prevent and treat anaphylaxis among adults, particularly those with known crustacean allergies where case fatality is highest.