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Study shows high prevalence and severity of childhood food allergy in the US
Date:6/20/2011

ChicagoA national study of food allergies in the US, the largest of its kind, finds that more children have food allergies than previously reported.

The study, published in the July issue of Pediatrics, and headed by Ruchi Gupta, MD, MPH, an Assistant Professor of Pediatrics at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine and a pediatrician at Children's Memorial Hospital, shows food allergy affects 8 percent of children under 18 years of age, or about 5.9 million children in the US. Of those, 38.7 percent had a history of severe reactions, and 30.4 percent had multiple food allergies. Children with food allergies were most commonly allergic to peanuts (25.2 percent), milk (21.1 percent) and shellfish (17.2 percent).

"The large, population-based nature of this study shows that pediatric food allergy is a significant and growing problem in our society," said Dr. Gupta. "Based on our data, about 1 in every 13 children has a food allergy. What's more, nearly 2 out of every 5 affected children suffer from a severe food-allergy. For these children, accidental ingestion of an allergenic food may lead to difficulty breathing, a sharp drop in blood pressure, and even death. Now that we understand just how far-reaching the problem of food allergy truly is, we can begin taking the necessary steps to keep these children safe."

To determine the true prevalence of food-allergy, researchers surveyed nearly 40,000 US households with children. Participants were asked to answer a battery of questions for a randomized child in their household, including present or past food allergy, date of onset, method of diagnosis, and reaction history for each reported allergen. Detailed demographic items were also included. Said Dr. Gupta, "What makes this study so unique is not only the large number of households surveyed, but the amount of data collected for children with a reported food allergy. With this data we are able to differentiat
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Contact: Julie Pesch
jpesch@childrensmemorial.org
773-880-3055
Children's Memorial Hospital
Source:Eurekalert

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