Infant anaphylaxis: Diagnostic and treatment challenges.
Immediate administration of intramuscular epinephrine to a patient experiencing anaphylaxis is the first-line therapy for this life-threatening allergic reaction. Alhough anaphylaxis is generally a rare occurrence, it has dire consequences if left untreated. In infants, anaphylaxis is typically triggered by exposure to egg, cow's milk, or peanuts. The rapid onset of symptoms in multiple organ systems makes an accurate diagnosis in infants difficult because there are numerous ways in which anaphylaxis may present. The symptoms of infant anaphylaxis are often underrecognized or misdiagnosed for less serious illnesses or even normal findings, including drooling, loose stools, and irritability. Because infants are mostly nonverbal-and most pediatric emergency department visits for anaphylaxis cases are the first diagnosis-ascertaining potential exposure to common allergens is difficult; this further complicates diagnosis in these youngest patients for whom the clinical presentation of anaphylaxis varies widely. A key factor in diagnosing anaphylaxis is the temporal profile of symptom development following allergen exposure; however, some children with anaphylaxis develop symptoms that reoccur hours or days after an initial anaphylactic reaction, making diagnosis challenging. Advanced practice nurses are often the first health care provider to encounter a patient who may be experiencing anaphylaxis. Although diagnostic criteria exist for anaphylaxis, specific criteria for the diagnosis of anaphylaxis in infants have not been developed. As such, it is important to understand and recognize the variable presentation of anaphylaxis in infants and to rapidly diagnose and treat with epinephrine.
J Am Assoc Nurse Pract
Shroba JA. Infant anaphylaxis: Diagnostic and treatment challenges. J Am Assoc Nurse Pract. 2020;32(2):176-183. doi:10.1097/JXX.0000000000000386