Skip to Main Content
Skip Nav Destination

Pediatric Allergist to Bust Common Myths Regarding Anaphylaxis, Asthma, Hives :

August 9, 2017

Editor's note: The 2017 AAP National Conference & Exhibition will take place from Sept. 16-19 in Chicago.

Misinformation. Folklore. Alternative facts. Call it what you will. But when it comes to allergies and anaphylaxis, inaccurate information can have serious consequences.

Unfortunately, caregivers of children with allergies don’t always have the facts.

“It’s challenging for families to know what is a source that can be trusted and what isn’t. There’s a lot of misinformation out there,” said Michael Pistiner, MD, FAAP, a member of the AAP Section on Allergy and Immunology Executive Committee.

Dr. Pistiner plans to expose some common falsehoods regarding food allergy, anaphylaxis, asthma, rhinitis and hives and offer advice on how pediatricians can respond during a session titled “Allergy Myth Busters (A3151).” The session will be held from 4:00-5:30 pm Monday, Sept. 18.

“To be able to give pediatricians the tools to debunk some of the myths that can set people in the wrong direction is really important and is what I’m hoping to accomplish with this session,” he said.

Dr. Pistiner will present various scenarios and use an audience response system to gauge whether attendees can identify which are myths. Then, he will review some of the data behind why the myth is not correct and discuss ways to re-educate families.

As an allergist, one misunderstanding he encounters among his patients is why they should call 911 after giving a child epinephrine for anaphylaxis.

“Many families tell me, ‘Look, I didn’t want to have to call an ambulance, so we didn’t give the epinephrine,’” said Dr. Pistiner, a pediatric allergist/immunologist at Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston. “I also frequently hear caregivers say that they did not want to hurt the child, and they didn’t think that it was a serious enough reaction.”

The reason people are told to dial 911 after giving epinephrine is because the child is having a life-threatening allergic reaction and may need additional care beyond just epinephrine. “It’s not because you gave the auto-injector,” he said. “If parents choose to withhold the appropriate treatment with epinephrine because they didn’t want to call an ambulance, then they messed up twice.”   

Another sticky situation occurs when a child is allergic to pets.

“We have a family that highly values relationships with their pets or other people’s pets, and they see all these wonderful things that can come out of having a dog or a cat living at home with their kid,” Dr. Pistiner said.

So they choose a breed that they believe won’t cause symptoms. But there is no such thing as a “hypoallergenic pet,” he said.

“The issue of pets and allergies becomes one of the most challenging conversations that we as allergists have because this is where high emotion can come up,” he said.

One way to head off these types of situations is to educate families right after a child is diagnosed with allergies when they are hungry for information.

“If they get good, solid, evidence-based information that is practical and not terrifying, then it’s going to start their journey with this chronic disease on the right path,” Dr. Pistiner said, “and they won’t fill the uncertainty and the unknown with misinformation that could get in the way of quality of life and the safety of their kid.”

Follow Dr. Pistiner on Twitter @MichaelPistiner.

For more stories on educational sessions and events at the 2017 AAP National Conference & Exhibition in Chicago, visit To register for the conference, visit

Close Modal

or Create an Account

Close Modal
Close Modal