Study Ups Estimated Rate of U.S. Children with Food Allergies

June 24, 2011

Food allergies may affect more children than previously reported.

Allergen labels at the bottom of your ingredient statements may be important to more parents than previously thought. A study funded by the Food Allergy Initiative, published on Monday in the journal Pediatrics, has concluded that 8% of U.S. children have at least one food allergy.

Researchers behind the study claim it is the largest ever to assess childhood allergy prevalence in the United States. Research popularly relied upon today for the same figures lists childhood food allergy rates at anywhere from 1–10%, with limitations in sample sizes and styles of research methods.

Using a sample size of over 38,000 households with children, a survey was developed by pediatric experts and administered between June 2009 and February 2010 to 40,000 households with children and completed by over 38,000.

Compiled results indicated that 8% of the population had a history of at least one food allergy-corresponding to roughly 5.9 million children in the United States. Of that 8%, 38.7% were recorded as having experienced severe reactions.

Multiple food allergies were reported in over 30% of those affected.

Peanut allergy was recorded as the most common food allergy, followed by milk and shellfish.

The researchers concluded that “The study described here, which included the largest sample of children to date and gathered information for a wide number of food allergens, suggests that food allergy affects more children than recently reported.”