Previous research by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimated that 4% of children suffer from food allergies, but a new study suggests the current rate could be double. Published in Pediatrics, the study found that closer to8 percent of children, or nearly 6 million people under the age of 18, have one or more food allergies.
Led by Dr. Ruchi Gupta,assistant professor of pediatrics at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago, the study used online interviews to collect information from 40,000 households nationwide.
“Based on our data, about one in 13 children has a food allergy,” Dr. Gupta said, as reported by the Covington & Maple Valley Reporter. Dr. Gupta added that nearly 40% of kids who are affected by food allergies suffer from severe cases, which means exposure could lead to difficulty breathing or even death.
While the study authors noted that more research is needed, they also found the results to be a striking indictor that food allergies in children are on the rise.
90% of food allergies are attributed to the top eight food allergens - milk, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, fish, shellfish, soy and wheat. The Reporter noted that celiac disease is often considered a food allergy, but distinguished the condition for its unique autoimmune response.
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