Kids with allergies waiting two years for tests
CHILDREN with life-threatening allergies are waiting up to two years for tests that can tell if they have outgrown the problem and no longer need EpiPens.
A severe shortage of allergy specialists means families are waiting six months or longer to even get an initial appointment with a specialist according to an exclusive investigation by The Daily Telegraph.
Professor Brad Frankum, a physician and allergy specialist, says the delay makes parents even more anxious to go out to eat, or even go to a supermarket, for fear of an anaphylactic reaction.
This also comes at a time where there is a national shortage of EpiPens due to manufacturing problems.
New research conducted by Allergy & Anaphylaxis Australia found that four out of five people surveyed - who are trying to manage their allergy - have had a reaction while eating away from home.
To help deal with this problem, the group is launching Allergy Pal this week, a free smartphone app that helps parents better manage a child's allergies and allergic reactions.
Allergy rates in children are increasing and so are the number of hospital admissions for anaphylaxis, yet parents are struggling to get their children's allergies assessed.
According to Professor Frankum there are 470 young children waiting for a supervised food challenge at Campbelltown Hospital in Sydney - and wait times are as long as two years.
"There are hundreds - if not thousands on waiting lists in each state," Maria Said, from support group Allergy and Anaphylaxis Australia, told News Corp.
Alison Derrett, general manager Camden and Campbelltown Hospitals said she was aware of delays for allergy testing at Campbelltown Hospital and apologised to patients.
"The hospital has seen an increase in demand for allergy testing in recent years as the population of the surrounding area grows," she said.
At Melbourne's Royal Children's Hospital there is a 12-month wait for food challenge tests but babies allergic to milk can get tested within weeks.
The hospital has had a recent resource boost and now has the capacity to test 86 children per week, but there are still around 1000 children waiting for the tests.
There are currently around 50 trainee allergy specialists according to The Australasian Society of Clinical Immunology and Allergy (ASCIA), but very few positions available in public hospitals.
Eli Cross has been waiting for two years for a food test at Campbelltown Hospital that will tell if his life-threatening allergies to egg and peanuts has reduced.
When he was nine months old, he developed a rash after raw egg touched his skin and further testing showed he is also allergic to peanuts.
Now four, the preschooler is on a strict diet but last year had a bad reaction to eating a taco that was sold as egg and peanut-free.
"It was pretty scary," his mother Hayley said, and she's frustrated it is taking so long for him to be tested.
Eli has to carry an EpiPen with him everywhere and the family is worried about the recent shortage of the lifesaving device.