LOS ANGELES — A significant proportion of children’s hospitals risk exposing patients to peanut-containing products by supplying them in vending machines and nutritional closets, according to data presented at the 2016 American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology annual meeting.
“Despite the fact that peanut allergy is the most common allergy among children in the United States, and that many schools and child-care centers have already become ‘peanut-free zones,’ there are currently no rules or regulations regarding the presence of peanut-containing products in pediatric hospital settings,” Ruth L. Milanaik, DO, of Cohen Children’s Medical Center of New York, told Infectious Diseases in Children. “In our study, we surveyed 52 pediatric hospitals across the U.S. and found that the vast majority carried peanut-containing products in the vending machine by their pediatric emergency department.”
Ruth L. Milanaik
The researchers surveyed residents at 52 pediatric hospitals to gauge the prevalence of peanut-containing products in those facilities. Residents were asked if peanut products were stored in the nutritional closets on the pediatric floor. The survey also requested that residents describe the products available and submit a photograph of the vending machine closest to the pediatric ED.
Data showed that of the 42 hospitals that submitted photographs, 97.6% of the machines contained at least one peanut product. The researchers also found that 59.6% of nutritional closets housed peanut products.
The researchers said the AMA should address this issue in order to protect children with peanut allergies.
“These products could be consumed and spread to surfaces in the vicinity of children with contact allergies to peanuts,” Tammy Pham, also from the Cohen Children’s Medical Center of New York, told Infectious Diseases in Children. “In the presumed safety of the hospital setting, it is important that hospitals minimize the risk to children with allergies by ensuring that their emergency department and patient floor settings are peanut-free.” – by David Costill
Fletcher LA, et al. Abstract 258. Presented at: the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology Annual Meeting; March 4-7, 2016; Los Angeles.
Disclosure: The researchers report no relevant financial disclosures.