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Pediatric allergies in Japan: Coronavirus disease pandemic-related risk factors.

Asia Pacific Allergy 2023 September
BACKGROUND: The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic impacted various parts of society, including Japanese children with allergies.

OBJECTIVE: This study investigated risk factors for pediatric allergic diseases associated with the state of emergency owing to the COVID-19 pandemic in Japan, including during school closures.

METHODS: Parents of pediatric patients (0-15 years) with allergies were enrolled and queried regarding the impact of school closure on pediatric allergies compared to that before the COVID-19 pandemic.

RESULTS: A valid response was obtained from 2302 parents; 1740 of them had children with food allergies. Approximately 4% (62/1740) of the parents reported accidental food allergen ingestion was increased compared to that before the COVID-19 pandemic. Accidental ingestion during school closures was associated with increased contact with meals containing allergens meant for siblings or other members of the family at home. The exacerbation rate during the pandemic was highest for atopic dermatitis at 13% (127/976), followed by allergic rhinitis at 8% (58/697), and bronchial asthma at 4% (27/757). The main risk factors for worsening atopic dermatitis, allergic rhinitis, and bronchial asthma were contact dermatitis of the mask area (34/120 total comments); home allergens, such as mites, dogs, and cats (15/51 total comments); and seasonal changes (6/25 total comments), respectively.

CONCLUSION: The main factors affecting allergic diseases were likely related to increased time at home, preventive measures against COVID-19, and refraining from doctor visits. Children with allergies were affected by changes in social conditions; however, some factors, such as preventing accidental ingestion and the management of allergens at home, were similar to those before the COVID-19 pandemic. Patients who had received instructions on allergen avoidance at home before the pandemic were able to manage their disease better even when their social conditions changed.

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