Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland
Factors influencing accidental food allergic reactions in schools and preschools.pdf (680.64 kB)

Factors influencing accidental food allergic reactions in schools and preschools

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journal contribution
posted on 2023-07-19, 10:40 authored by Miranda CrealeyMiranda Crealey, Aideen Byrne

Background: Children spend a large proportion of their childhood in schools. In Ireland, there is no government policy on the management of food allergy (FA) in schools or preschool childcare settings (CCS). There is limited data worldwide on rate of accidental allergic reactions (AARs) within these settings.

Aim: The aim of this paper is to report the management of FA and the incidence of AARs in Irish school or preschool CCS.

Methods: A prospective observational study was established, enrolling children aged 2 to 16 years with confirmed FA. Participants were contacted at three monthly intervals for 1 year to report AARs to food. Data pertaining to schools and preschool CCS is reported here.

Results: A total of 521 children (402 attending school and 119 attending preschool CCS) were enrolled. The annualised incidence of AARs in school was 4.5% (95% CI 2.6-7.0) and in preschool CCS 5% (95% CI 1.8-11.1); 6 of 7 of the nut reactions occurred in schools banning nuts. Half (3/6) of the preschool reactions were to cow's milk; 174/521 (33%) children did not provide their individualised allergy action plan (AAP). Four out of 18 (22%) AARs in school were anaphylaxis and none were administered adrenaline by school staff.

Conclusion: The incidence of AARs in this Irish cohort was found to be equivalent to the international experience. However, many of the recorded reactions identified in this study were likely avoidable. Preparation for AARs needs optimising. The ineffectiveness of "nut bans" remains unrecognised. Promoting milk and egg allergy resolution in infancy would likely reduce preschool- and school-based reaction numbers.


Open Access funding provided by the IReL Consortium

The National Children’s Hospital Fund (grant award number 15119)



The original article is available at

Published Citation

Crealey M, Byrne A. Factors influencing accidental food allergic reactions in schools and preschools. Ir J Med Sci. 2024;193(1):313-319.

Publication Date

7 June 2023

PubMed ID



  • Paediatrics


Royal Academy of Medicine of Ireland


  • Published Version (Version of Record)