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Child Food Allergies on the Rise in U.S.
Date:11/16/2009

Experts unsure if growth stems from more awareness or actual increase in numbers,,,,,,

MONDAY, Nov. 16 (HealthDay News) -- Pediatric food allergies, which can sometimes be life-threatening, are increasing at a dramatic rate in the United States, new research shows.

But the study authors aren't sure if the rise in reports of food allergies reflects an increase in actual prevalence or if better awareness has led more people to seek treatment for their symptoms.

Whatever the cause, it's clear that the number of children with food allergies has gone up 18 percent and the number seeking treatment for food allergy at emergency departments or hospitals has tripled since 1993.

"People are more aware of food allergies today, and that could have something to do with it," said study author, Amy Branum, a health statistician for the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. "But, when we looked at health-care surveys filled out by parents and those from the health-care sector, we saw the increase across the surveys so this may be more than just increased awareness."

Results of the study were published online Nov. 16 and will appear in the December print issue of Pediatrics.

Although many people think of allergies as more of a nuisance than a serious health issue, food allergy in particular can be very serious, even life-threatening. The most common foods that people are allergic to include peanuts, tree nuts, milk, eggs, soy, shellfish, fish and wheat, according to the Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Network.

Symptoms often appear minutes after people eat a food that they're allergic to, but it can sometimes take several hours before a reaction begins, according to the network. Typical symptoms of a food allergy include a tingling sensation in the mouth, swelling of the tongue or throat, trouble breathing, hives, stomach cramping, vomiting or diarrhea.

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