Another Study Confirms: Food Allergies are On the Rise

By Heather Legg

The Center for Disease Control (CDC) in Atlanta has completed the first federal study of the problem of food allergies according to this article. Food allergies are on the rise, as many of us are aware of already.

In 1997, the CDC found that 1 out of every 29 children had a food allergy, now it is 1 out of every 26. That is an 18 percent increase, significant to be more than a “statistical blip.” There could be a number of possible reasons for that, including that parents are quicker now to seek a diagnosis than in the past. The higher numbers may also be due to relating food allergies to other symptoms, like eczema, stomach problems and breathing problems. Other conditions are related to food allergies, like asthma.

Though there are plenty of foods that kids are allergic to, it’s still the big 8 causing the most trouble. Peanut allergies have doubled, the study found, and it is also taking longer for kids to outgrow their milk and egg allergies.

The study also found that hospitalizations due to food allergies are up. This may actually be a positive note, because it could mean that people are seeking medical help quicker and more often than letting symptoms go untreated. The numbers more than tripled of hospitalizations.

Though this national study’s findings are quite close to smaller studies done in the past, medical records and doctor’s evaluations were not checked. It was a door to door study and sometimes parents confuse things like lactose intolerance or other intolerances with food allergies.

Also, this study included the first such racial/ethnic breakdown in a national study. It showed that Hispanic children had lower rates of food allergies than white or black children. However, the reason for that last finding may not be genetics, said Anne Munoz-Furlong, chief executive of the Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Network (FAAN). She is Hispanic and said people in her own family have been unwilling to consider food allergies as the reason for children’s illnesses. “It’s a question of awareness,” she said.

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