Why do more kids seem to have food allergies than ever before? When I was a kid, I didn’t know a single person who had a food allergy, but my son has been in a “peanut-free” classroom every year of his elementary school career.
A new U.S. study from the journal Pediatrics shows that food allergies are more prevalent and more dangerous than we ever knew.
According to the study of more than 40,000 families with at least one child under age 18, 8% of kids are allergic to at least one food.
To compare, a 2009 government survey reported that around 4% of kids suffered a food allergy.
Why do more kids seem to have food allergies now?
In a Today show segment on childhood food allergies, one possible cause discussed was the fact that children are not introduced to some foods as early as children used to be.
Peanut allergies top the list of the most commonly reported food allergies, with milk, shellfish, tree nuts, egg, fin fish, strawberry, wheat, and soy also making the list.
What’s scary about food allergies is that the reactions can be very severe in some cases, with 40% in the study who have food allergies suffering wheezing, difficulty breathing and a sudden drop in blood pressure.
Food allergies were highest in kids ages 3- to 5-years-old, according to the study, but teenagers were most likely to have severe reactions.
Study researcher Ruchi S. Gupta, MD, MPH, an assistant professor of pediatrics at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago, explains that in older children “They’re going out with their friends and they don’t want to feel different. They may not ask the ingredients in everything, you know, at a restaurant, in front of people.”
Do you have a child that suffers a food allergy
Get more details about the symptoms of food allergies in this Today show video clip.
Peanut Allergy Fears & Risks: Raising a kid with allergies