FARE (Food Allergy Research & Education) cites food allergies as a growing public health concern, noting that 15 million people are afflicted, 9 million of them adults and nearly 6 million children.
As long ago as 2008, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) reported a 50 percent increase in food allergies among children from 1997 to 2011. The economic cost of those allergies was estimated at nearly $25 billion annually.
Eight foods account for 90% of all food-allergic reactions: milk, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts (e.g., walnuts, almonds, cashews, pistachios, pecans), wheat, soy, fish, and shellfish. 5, 15, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 62 Estimated prevalence9, some based on self-report, among the U.S. population: o Peanut: 0.6-1.3%
o Tree nuts: 0.4-0.6%
o Fish: 0.4%
o Crustacean shellfish (crab, crayfish, lobster, shrimp): 1.2
o All seafood: 0.6% in children and 2.8% in adults
o Milk and egg: based on data within and obtained outside the United States, this rate is likely to be 1-2% for young children and 0.2-0.4% in the general population.
Managing Food Allergies
Eating away from home is said to potentially pose “a significant risk ” to those affected by food allergies. One study looking at peanut and tree nut allergy reactions in restaurants and other food establishments found that reactions were frequently attributed to desserts, that Asian restaurants and take-out dessert stores (bakeries, ice cream shops) were common sources of foods that triggered reactions, and that the food establishment was often not properly notified of a food allergy by the customer with the allergy.
Even small amounts of a food allergen can trigger a reaction. Food allergies are a leading cause of anaphylaxis outside the hospital setting, the group points out. It notes that every three minutes, a food allergy sends someone to a hospital emergency room, accounting for some 200,000 ER visits annually. Research shows that:
• Every six minutes the reaction is one of anaphylaxis. • Teenagers and young adults with food allergies are at the highest risk of fatal food-induced anaphylaxis.
• Symptoms of anaphylaxis may recur after initially subsiding and experts recommend an observation period of about 4 hours to monitor that the reaction has been resolved.
• Individuals with food allergies who also have asthma may be at increased risk for severe/fatal food allergy reactions.
• Children with food allergy are 2-4 times more likely to have other related conditions such as asthma and other allergies, compared with children without food allergies. 1
• It is possible to have anaphylaxis without any skin symptoms (no rash, hives). 1
• Failure to promptly (i.e., within minutes) treat food anaphylaxis with epinephrine is a risk factor for fatalities.
For more information, visit Food Allergy Research & Education http://www.foodallergy.org • (800) 929-4040