C.D.C.:Incidence of food allergies in children rising

by Keith Nunes
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ATLANTA — Approximately 3 million children in the United States under the age of 18 were reported to have a food or digestive allergy in the previous 12 months, according to a new study released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Oct. 23.

The study, "Food allergy among U.S. children: Trends in prevalence and hospitalizations," revealed that between 1997 and 2007 the number of young people who had a food allergy increased 18%. Eight types of foods accounted for 90% of all food allergies: milk, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, fish, shellfish, soy and wheat.

The study also showed that hospitalizations of children due to food allergy reactions in the United States have significantly increased since 1998, with an average of 9,537 hospitalizations per year. In addition, the C.D.C. report noted children with a food allergy were two to four times more likely to have other related conditions such as asthma and other allergies, compared to children without food allergies.

There were some differences in reported food allergies among children of different ethnicities. There were lower incident rates among Hispanic children compared with non-Hispanic white and non-Hispanic black children. There appeared to be no difference in allergy incidence based on sex.

The study’s results corroborate other reports of increasing food allergies in the United States, according to the C.D.C. The findings are also similar to those reported in other countries.

In its study, the C.D.C. did not address what factors may have led to the increase in food allergy incidence.

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