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Food Allergies Up 18% Among U.S. Children
Date:10/22/2008

Reactions lead to higher risk for asthma, other respiratory problems, CDC report says

WEDNESDAY, Oct. 22 (HealthDay News) -- The number of American kids with food allergies has soared 18 percent in the last decade, with an estimated 4 percent of children and teens now affected with the condition, a new federal report says.

In 2007, approximately 3 million children under the age of 18 were reported to have had a food or digestive allergy in the previous 12 months, compared to slightly more than 2.3 million children (3.3 percent) in 1997, according to the report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Eight types of foods account for 90 percent of all food allergies -- milk, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, fish, shellfish, soy, and wheat. Allergic reactions to these foods can range from a tingling sensation around the mouth and lips, to hives and even death, depending on the severity of the reaction, the report's authors said.

The report also said that children with food allergies are two to four times more likely to have asthma or other allergies, compared to children without food allergies.

It's not really known how a person develops a food allergy. They are more common in children than adults, and the majority of children with food allergies will "outgrow" them as they get older. But for some, a food allergy can become a lifelong concern, the report said.

Other highlights in the report:

  • Rates of food allergy were similar for boys and girls -- 3.8 percent for boys and 4.1 percent for girls.
  • Approximately 4.7 percent of children younger than 5 years of age had a reported food allergy, compared to 3.7 percent of children and teens aged 5 to 17 years.
  • Hispanic children had lower rates of reported food allergy (3.1 percent) than non-Hispanic white (4.1 percent) or non-Hispanic black children (4 percent.)
  • In 2007, 29 percent of ch
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