SYDNEY, Nov. 24 (Xinhua) -- An Australian study has found that 40 percent of adolescents with food allergies experience frequent allergic reactions.
The study, undertaken by Melbourne's Murdoch Childrens Research Institute (MCRI), found that of 547 children aged between 10 and 14 surveyed, 44 percent had experienced an allergic reaction in the past year.
Almost 10 percent reported enduring a potentially fatal anaphylactic reaction. Respondents reported that most reactions occurred at home, a finding lead author Vicki McWilliams said was surprising.
"This is in contrast to the assumption that schools and restaurants pose higher risk for accidental allergen exposure and may reflect the compulsory training around food allergy that has been in place in the Victorian educational sector since 2008," McWilliams said in a media release on Friday.
The study found that adolescents with allergies to two or more foods were twice as likely to experience an allergic reaction while those allergic to nuts went through the most severe reactions.
Those with asthma in addition to food allergies were not found to have an increased risk of severe allergic reactions.
The MCRI's Kate Allen said that teenagers and young adults were most at risk of dying from anaphylaxis but few studies had been done on them.
"We were astounded because people who have had a food allergy are meant to avoid the food ... and this suggests that in the community there's a bit of a tip-of-the-iceberg phenomenon," Allen told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.
"There (are) certainly more reactions among those with food allergies than we had thought would be possible."
She said that precautionary food labels that warn consumers a product "may contain traces of nuts" could lead to complacency.
"We think the food industry wants to cover themselves and in fact that's doing a disservice to the consumer because the consumer is taking all of the risk ... in my view, it's become almost useless."