‘Food allergies on the rise’

Study finds that shellfish allergies have risen 44 percent among adults while peanut allergies have surged 21 percent among children.


Harsimran Makkad

KIDS LOVE FOOD. Food allergies are on the rise across the U.S. among adults and children. To combat this epidemic, scientists and doctors suggest starting to develop tolerance among infants. “We need to work with pediatricians – the first physicians who care for most babies…We need to overcome the current barriers so all physicians who deal with infants understand that early introduction could lead to a new generation of children who have far less peanut allergy,” said Dr. David Stukus, allergist and ACAAI member, in a press release.

The number of people with food allergies is rapidly increasing across the country as found by two new studies conducted by the American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology (ACAAI).

While people tend to associate food allergies with children, researchers found that 45 percent of adults with food allergies developed them after they grew older.

The most common food allergy among adults, the study discovered, is shellfish, afflicting nearly 3.6 percent of the U.S. adult population. This means that the prevalence of shellfish allergies has increased 44 percent since 2004.

Similarly, tree nut allergies, also widely reported, now afflict 1.8 percent of U.S. adults, up 260 percent from 2008.

As with children, the incidence of food allergies in adults is rising across all ethnic groups.”

— Dr. Ruchi Gupta, lead author of the study

“We also saw that, as with children, the incidence of food allergies in adults is rising across all ethnic groups,” said Dr. Ruchi Gupta, lead author of the study, in a press release.

Yet researchers also discovered that ethnic minorities were more likely to develop allergies.

“Our research also found that, among black, Asian and Hispanic adults, the risk of developing a food allergy to certain foods is higher than for whites, specifically for shellfish and peanuts.

“For example, Asian adults were 2.1 times more likely to report a shellfish allergy than white adults, and Hispanic adults reported a peanut allergy at 2.3 times the frequency of white adults,” said Christopher Warren, food allergy researcher and study co-author, in a press release.

A second study analyzing food allergies among children found that only 11 percent of pediatricians tell parents about early peanut introduction to prevent an allergy.

Researchers found that among 79 pediatricians surveyed, 38 percent of them did not bring up this up with parents or refer high-risk babies to testing prior to peanut introductions.

“This is a scary trend. I think that peanut introductions would decrease the number of childhood allergies, although who knows about allergies among adults,” said Carolyn Zhang, 11.

There has been a 21 percent surge in peanut allergies among children in the U.S. since 2010.”

This revelation goes hand in hand with the 21 percent surge in peanut allergies among children in the U.S. since 2010.

“The good news is that parents now have a way to potentially prevent peanut allergy by introducing peanut products to infants early after assessing risk with their pediatrician and allergist,” Gupta said to Medical Xpress.

The key is to increase awareness about allergies and get tested if you find that you have reactions to certain foods or substances.

“Because many adults believe food allergies mostly affect children, they may not think to get tested.

“It is important to see an allergist for testing and diagnosis if you are having a reaction to a food and suspect a food allergy,” Warren said.