23. October 2019
Sleep attacks in children with food allergies

Children with food allergies may experience sleep attacks. This is frequently observed during reactions to tree nuts.

“Sleep attacks have not been described as a typical symptom of allergic reactions”, said Birgit Kalb and her colleagues from Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin in a poster presentation at the 2019 German Allergy Congress. They therefore investigated how often sleep attacks occur and whether some triggers are more common than others.

The result: Out of 2,456 oral food challenge tests on 1,082 children, an allergic reaction was triggered in 1,057 cases (44%). A sleep attack occurred in 71 (6.7%) of the cases in which an allergic reaction occurred.

The most common allergen linked to sleep attacks was the cashew nut, followed by walnut, sesame and hazelnut. On the other hand, the association between sleep attacks and fish, chicken egg, peanut and cow’s milk was weaker.

Sleep attacks were most often accompanied by skin reactions and gastrointestinal symptoms. Cardiovascular and respiratory symptoms occurred much less frequently.

Kalb and her colleagues stated that further studies are needed in order to characterise sleep attacks in more detail as a symptom of an allergic reaction.



Dt. Allergiekongress 2019. Posterpräsentation P 7.8 „Schlafzwang: ein unterschätztes Symptom bei allergischen Reaktionen“ – Reaktionen’ (‘Sleep attacks: An underestimated symptom in allergic reactions’) Kalb B et al.


Text: mh/ktg