Food Allergies on the Rise in U.S. Children

March 5, 2009

The number of children with food allergies has increased 18% in the past decade, according to a large national study.

About 4% of kids under 18 — or 3 million
children — had food allergies in 2007, according to a report released
today from the National Center for Health Statistics.

Some children had particularly severe reactions.
About 9,500 a year were hospitalized for food allergies from 2004 to
2006 — more than 3½ times as many as in 1998 to 2000, according to the
study. Researchers based their analysis on the Centers for Disease
Control and Prevention’s 2007 National Health Interview Study, which
included 9,500 children, and the National Hospital Discharge Survey,
which includes 270,000 patient records.

The foods most likely to cause allergies are
milk, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts such as walnuts, fish, shellfish, soy
and wheat, according to the study. Allergic reactions can include
respiratory problems, such as wheezing, as well as a rash, diarrhea or
vomiting, says study co-author Amy Branum, a CDC health statistician.

Researchers noted that children with food
allergies are two to four times as likely to have related conditions,
such as asthma or other allergies, compared to kids without food
allergies.

The survey confirms the findings of a Food and Drug Administration study in this month’s Pediatrics.

In the FDA study, which surveyed 2,441 mothers,
doctors found that food allergies tend to show up very early — usually
within the first six months. About 6% of babies have food allergies by
the end of their first year.

Babies often “grow out of” food allergies, as
well as skin problems such as eczema, as they age, says Scott Sicherer,
associate professor of pediatrics at the Jaffe Food Allergy Institute
at New York’s Mount Sinai School of Medicine.

These same children, however, often develop hay
fever and asthma, says Sicherer, who was not involved with the new
studies. Researchers need to learn why allergies are increasing, and
how to prevent them, he says. Doctors today have relatively few proven
ways to reduce a child’s risk for allergies, although Sicherer says
breastfeeding appears to offer some protection.

Authors of the FDA study note that it’s
important for parents to bring children with suspected food allergies
to the doctor. Although nearly 21% of children in the FDA study had
some food-related problem, such as gas or cramps, only 8% of all
children saw a doctor.

That could prevent children from getting the
proper care, says co-author Stefano Luccioli, a medical officer at the
FDA. Also, parents who mistakenly believe their children have food
allergies may unnecessarily restrict their diets, depriving children of
important sources of calories and essential nutrients.

http://www.usatoday.com/news/health/2008-10-22-food-allergies_N.htm 

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: