A new study, funded by the Food Allergy Initiative, finds that 8 percent of American children under the age of 18 have one or more food allergies. That means 5.9 million kids are at risk food-allergic reactions.
That 8 percent finding is considerably higher than previously known. Previous prevalence estimates that have found the range of food allergies as high as 8 percent in children under age 3, but more in the range of 4 percent for older children.
The study, published in the medical journal Pediatrics, finds that teens between the ages of 14 and 17 are most at risk of a severe reaction. It also finds a higher incidence of food allergies in African-American children and those of Asian background. But of concern, children from those two groups were less likely to see an allergist and receive a formal diagnosis than white children.
- 38.7 percent of the children in the survey had a severe or life-threatening allergy
- 30.4 percent had multiple food allergies
- Children with food allergies were most commonly allergic to peanuts (25.2 percent), milk (21.1 percent) and shellfish (17.2 percent), followed by tree nuts (13.1 percent), and egg (9.8 percent)
- Severe reactions were most common among children with a tree nut, peanut, shellfish, soy, or fin fish allergy
- Children aged 14-17 years were most likely to have a severe food allergy
- Food allergies affect children in all geographic regions
- Asian and African American children were more likely to have a convincing history of food allergy, but were less likely to receive a formal diagnosis when compared to white children