Health care providers should increase efforts to show parents of children with food allergies when and how to use an epinephrine auto-injector and to provide a written action plan in the event of an emergency, according to a report published online ahead of print January 12 in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology: In Practice.

Ruchi S. Gupta, MD, MPH, and colleagues studied 859 parents recruited from the Chicago metro area who visited their children’s physicians twice a year. They found that less than 70% of parents remembered their allergists telling them when to use epinephrine and less than 40% remembered their pediatricians telling them this information. The numbers were lower for how many parents recalled being shown how to use epinephrine or being given a written emergency action plan, which describes common symptoms of a food allergy and what to do if a child has mild versus severe symptoms for all potential caregivers.

Healthcare providers need to make sure patients understand when and how to use epinephrine and that they have an emergency action plan, Dr. Gupta said, adding that they should make sure the parents can repeat back the directions, as parents may not always absorb the information they are given in a short period.