Latest American Statistics
Eight percent of U.S. children 18 years and younger — about 6 million — have food allergies, according to a survey study published June 20, 2011 in the journal Pediatrics with lead author Dr. Ruchi Gupta of Northwestern University.
That’s twice as many children as previously reported. A 2009 study by the National Center for Health Statistics published in the journal Pediatrics found 3.9 percent of children in this age range reported food allergies.
Heightened awareness and better diagnoses by doctors are the likely reasons for the jump in reported cases, experts explain.
Gupta’s study had one of the largest samplings of previously published studies with data from a random, cross-section of families representing 38,480 U.S. children 18 years and younger. Data were collected from June 2009 to February 2010.
About 25 percent of children surveyed reported a peanut allergy, followed by milk at 21 percent, and shellfish at 17 percent. Kids with peanut and tree nut allergies had the most severe reactions with symptoms of anaphylaxis, wheezing or low blood pressure, according to the study. Of the children reporting allergies, 38 percent had histories of severe reactions and 30 percent had multiple food allergies.
The study also noted that adolescents are at a greater risk than other children since the chance of a severe food allergy increases with age peaking at 14 to 17 years old.