Food allergies surging among US kids and adults, research shows

WASHINGTON — Food allergies are on the rise across the country, according to two new studies released Friday by the American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology.

Dr. Ruchi Gupta, lead author of one of the studies, didn’t expect the jump in adult-onset food allergies.

“Food allergies are often seen as a condition that begins in childhood, so the idea that 45 percent of adults with food allergies develop them in adulthood is surprising,” she said in an ACAAI news release.

“We also saw that, as with children, the incidence of food allergies in adults is rising across all ethnic groups.”

According to the ACAAI, the most common food allergy for adults in the U.S. is shellfish. It affects an estimated 3.6 percent of the population — a 44 percent increase over the 2.5 percent found in a 2004 study.

Race was also considered as a factor.

“Our research also found that, among black, Asian and Hispanic adults, the risk of developing a food allergy to certain foods is higher than for whites, specifically for shellfish and peanuts,” said Christopher Warren, co-author of the new study.

A second study aimed at food allergies among children found that just 11 percent of pediatricians tell parents about early peanut introduction to prevent an allergy.

“Our study revealed that although pediatricians have been introduced to the new guidelines, they’re not yet putting them into practice,” said allergist Dr. Bryce Hoffman.

“We sent surveys to 188 pediatricians, and received 79 back. Of those, 38 percent had a score of  one or less (four equals highest, zero equals lowest) when it came to following the guidelines. In addition, 44 percent reported not referring high-risk children, those with egg allergy and/or severe eczema, for peanut allergy testing.”

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Given that news, it comes as little surprise that peanut allergies among U.S. kids have surged 21 percent since 2010.

“While 21 percent represents a large increase in the number of kids with a likely peanut allergy, the good news is that parents now have a way to potentially prevent peanut allergy by introducing peanut products to infants early after assessing risk with their pediatrician and allergist,” Gupta told Medical Xpress.

For more information about allergies and to locate an allergist, visit acaai.org.


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