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Allergies Health Center

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Food Allergy in Kids Up 18%

CDC: 4% of U.S. Children Now Suffer Food Allergies


"There was a study suggesting that 6% to 8% of kids up to age 3 years had some form of food allergy. Then by age 10 it drops down to about 4%, which corresponds with the number the CDC has come up with," Sampson notes.

Food allergy is different from food intolerance. An allergic reaction is a haywire immune response to what should be a harmless substance. Food intolerance is the inability to digest or to metabolize food.

Sampson says kids who develop food allergies usually get a skin rash or hives. With more severe cases, there may be vomiting or difficulty breathing. A child with food intolerance usually has a stomachache, bloating, and/or diarrhea.

Food allergies can be very serious.

"I would never ignore a rash. At a minimum, contact a pediatrician," Sampson says. "And we know that children who develop a milk allergy are at risk of another allergy. We see that kids with milk allergy get other allergic symptoms, like asthma, much more often than kids without food allergies."

Indeed, the CDC finds:

  • 29% of kids with food allergies, but only 12% of kids without food allergies, also have asthma.
  • 27% of kids with food allergies, but only 8% of kids without food allergies, also have eczema or skin allergy.
  • More than 30% of kids with food allergies, but only 9% of kids without food allergies, also have respiratory allergies.

The CDC data come from two sources: the National Health Interview Survey, which sampled some 9,500 children in 2007; and the National Hospital Discharge Survey, which includes 270,000 inpatient records from about 500 hospitals.

The CDC report, "Food Allergy Among U.S. Children: Trends in Prevalence and Hospitalizations," was released on Oct. 22.

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