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Food, Skin Allergies on the Rise Among Children

Reasons aren't known, but researchers found racial, age and income differences

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"We and others are undertaking studies to try to better understand the risk factors and opportunities for prevention, while aggressively doing research on multiple means to treat those with food allergies," Sicherer said.

Racial differences did emerge in the data.

The researchers found Hispanic children had the lowest prevalence of food, skin and respiratory allergies, compared with other groups.

And black children were more likely to have skin allergies than white children (17.4 percent versus 12 percent, respectively), but less likely to have respiratory allergies (15.6 percent versus 19.1 percent, respectively).

Age also was a factor in the prevalence of skin and respiratory allergies, the report noted.

With skin allergies, the rate dropped with age: 14.2 percent of those aged 4 and younger had them, while 13.1 percent of those aged 5 to 9, and 10.9 percent of those aged 10 to 17 had them.

The opposite was true for respiratory allergies: 10.8 percent of those aged 4 and younger had them, while 17.4 percent of those aged 5 to 9 and 20.8 percent of those aged 10 to 17 had them.

Last, but not least, there was the income gap.

Among families making less than 100 percent of poverty level, 4.4 percent of those children had food allergies and 14.9 percent had respiratory allergies. Among families making more than 200 percent of poverty level, 5.4 percent of those children had food allergies and 18.3 percent had respiratory allergies.

John Lehr, CEO of Food Allergy Research & Education, added that the report "confirms what we have already known, which is that millions of children are affected by food allergies, and this potentially deadly disease is a serious and growing public health concern. The CDC's report reinforces the need for education and awareness about food allergies across the country."

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