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Food Allergy Among U.S. Children Increasing

Armen Hareyan's picture

One out of every 25 children has a food allergy, representing about a 20% increase of food allergy cases between 1997 to 2007, A study published by the National Center for Health Statistics division of the Center for Disease Control and Prevention reports.

The study also showed that hospitalizations of children due to food allergy reactions in the U.S. have significantly increased since 1998, with an average of 9,537 hospitalizations a year. These findings are similar to what FAAN and others have been reporting--food allergy in children is increasing.

There is no cure for food allergy. Currently, parents are simply told to go home and avoid the allergen, and be prepared in case a reaction occurs. “My daughter was diagnosed with an allergy to milk and eggs 24 years ago,” said Anne Muñoz-Furlong, founder and CEO of the Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Network. “Parents today are getting the same advice I was given almost a quarter of a century ago. Children who are living with food allergies need treatment options for preventing reactions.”

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There is no question that food allergy is a public health concern in children. Several studies have shown that in spite of best efforts to avoid allergens, reactions will occur. The CDC study indicates that an increasing number of these reactions are severe.

More research is needed to help scientists understand why we are becoming more allergic, how to stop food allergy from developing in children, and how to cure those who already have food allergies.

In 2007, approximately 3 million children under age 18 years (3.9%) were reported to have a food or digestive allergy in the previous 12 months. From 1997 to 2007, the prevalence of reported food allergy increased 18% among children under age 18 years.

Children with food allergy are two to four times more likely to have other related conditions such as asthma and other allergies, compared with children without food allergies. From 2004 to 2006, there were approximately 9,500 hospital discharges per year with a diagnosis related to food allergy among children under age 18 years.