Raising awareness of FPIES in accident and emergency departments

Louise Littler of FPIES UK explains why the charity's new campaign is so important for FPIES families.
FPIES UK is the Freefrom Food Awards charity of the year for 2016, 10% of all entry fees going to help their A & E awareness raising campaign.


It is widely reported that delayed (non-IgE mediated) allergies, do not cause severe symptoms. This unfortunately is not true.

Food Protein Induced Enterocolitis Syndrome( FPIES) is a severe and potentially life threatening form of non-IgE food allergy. FPIES reactions do not cause the typical hives, swelling or wheezing commonly associated with food allergies. Instead we see severe gastrointestinal symptoms which include profuse vomiting and lethargy, in some cases shock. Many parents have rushed their child to A&E frightened and distressed only to have this distress compounded by a lack of knowledge and failure of many emergency department staff to recognise their child's symptoms as being an allergic response.

As FPIES reactions are delayed and some of the foods responsible are considered hypoallergenic, medical staff frequently fail to associate the food with the reaction. Therefore many babies who arrive at A&E during an FPIES reaction undergo unnecessary, painful, or invasive tests. The majority of babies and children go undiagnosed or leave the emergency department with an incorrect diagnosis. This lack of awareness frequently leads to multiple severe reactions and much heartache for families. Increased awareness in emergency departments could save many families from the stress of misdiagnosis and prevent the suffering of young babies who have multiple reactions before being correctly diagnosed.

For more on FPIES, see Dr Marie Wheeler's article and Odette's report on a day in the life of and FPIES child.

September 2015

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