Ottawa, Ontario — Wednesday May 18, 2022
Food allergies impact us all in one way or another. The impact can be as personal as having to carry an EpiPen® everywhere you go, or as removed as not packing a peanut butter sandwich in your kid’s lunch.
Allergic diseases affect more than 25% of the world’s population. Food allergy affects more than 3 million Canadians and impacts one-in-two Canadian households. Anaphylaxis is the most severe form of allergic reaction that rapidly affects multiple body systems and can be fatal.
The highest incidence of anaphylaxis is in children and adolescents. In Canada, there is an emergency department visit for food allergy approximately every 10 minutes. Up to 80% of anaphylactic reactions in children are triggered by food. Furthermore, 8% of allergy-related emergency department visits are due to anaphylactic shock.
Dr. Waleed Alqurashi, Investigator with the CHEO Research Institute and CHEO Emergency Department physician, has observed significant practice variation in how physicians care for children with. As an emergency physician, he has witnessed firsthand the gaps in original research and clinical practice and has devoted his research efforts over the past several years to bridge these gaps.
“The gaps are huge, and we still have a lot of work to do,” said Dr. Alqurashi. “Current policies and practices of post anaphylaxis care are largely guided by consensus-based recommendations that have unintended negative impacts on patient safety and quality of life. Our research collaboration with leading scientists and community partners looks to fill some of those gaps.”
As the 2021 winner of Food Allergy Canada’s Robyn Allen Leadership Award, awarded to those who champion anaphylaxis-related causes through awareness building and influence change that impacts quality of life through improved policies, research, education, and advocacy, Dr. Alqurashi is recognized as a leader in the field of allergy and anaphylaxis research. He has distinguished himself as an expert in the field of biphasic anaphylaxis (BA), which is a severe allergic reaction occurring after resolution of an initial anaphylactic event, which can cause significant morbidity and caregivers’ anxiety.
Dr. Alqurashi is passionate about knowledge translation of his research findings and is actively involved in creating valuable resources for children and families dealing with food allergy. Most recently, he was a medical reviewer for Food Allergy Canada’s new resource, “Caring for a child with food allergy: A guide on what you need to know”.
This guide provides caregivers, like grandparents, babysitters, and others, with easy-to-understand information that’s essential for managing food allergy and anaphylaxis. It’s very visual and includes images from the Canadian Anaphylaxis Action Plan for Kids (Kids’ CAP) that was developed at CHEO.
Dr. Alqurashi is always looking at ways to better understand food allergy and anaphylaxis in order to translate findings to improve clinical care. In 2021, he received grant funding from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research for the Canadian Anaphylaxis Network study. The study will enroll patients from seven pediatric centres to develop a prognostic tool that informs clinicians’ disposition decisions of children with anaphylaxis, so that children at high risk for symptoms recurrence are monitored appropriately, whereas those at no or low risk can be discharged from the emergency department once they become asymptomatic.
During Food Allergy Awareness Month this May, learn more about allergic reaction research happening at the CHEO Research Institute here.
Visit Food Allergy Canada’s website for more information and resources, and participate in their Know it. Treat it. campaign that is about empowering all Canadians to recognize and treat anaphylaxis through real-life stories and experiences. Plus, join in on the many activities taking place this month including a webinar with experts on de-mystifying anaphylaxis.