Food allergy among U.S. children : trends in prevalence and hospitalizations
Published Date:October 2008
Corporate Authors:National Center for Health Statistics (U.S.)
Series:NCHS data brief ; no. 10
DHHS publication ; no. (PHS) 2009–1209
• In 2007, approximately 3 million children under age 18 years (3.9%) were reported to have a food or digestive allergy in the previous 12 months.
• From 1997 to 2007, the prevalence of reported food allergy increased 18% among children under age 18 years.
• Children with food allergy are two to four times more likely to have other related conditions such as asthma and other allergies, compared with children without food allergies.
• From 2004 to 2006, there were approximately 9,500 hospital discharges per year with a diagnosis related to food allergy among children under age 18 years
Food allergy is a potentially serious immune response to eating specific foods or food additives. Eight types of food account for over 90% of allergic reactions in affected individuals: milk, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, fish, shellfish, soy, and wheat (1,2). Reactions to these foods by an allergic person can range from a tingling sensation around the mouth and lips and hives to death, depending on the severity of the allergy. The mechanisms by which a person develops an allergy to specific foods are largely unknown. Food allergy is more prevalent in children than adults, and a majority of affected children will “outgrow” food allergies with age. However, food allergy can sometimes become a lifelong concern (1). Food allergies can greatly affect children and their families’ well-being. There are some indications that the prevalence of food allergy may be increasing in the United States and in other countries (2–4).
Suggested citation: Branum AM, Lukacs SL. Food allergy among U.S. children: Trends in prevalence and hospitalizations. NCHS data brief, no 10. Hyattsville, MD: National Center for Health Statistics. 2008.
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