Recent study on Food Allergies in the US

Posted 7.12.11 | Christine Graham-Garo

Food allergies (FA) seem to be on the rise (Lin et al, 2008), but in America , food allergies haven’t been studied much in regards to the prevalence specific to the US population.  A very recent study by Ruchi Gupta et al, 2011, looks at the prevalence and severity of childhood food allergies in America.  This study has the largest sample of food allergic children to date.  Studies like this are essential for the US to help understand food allergies more thoroughly, which may then help with better diagnosis and treatment of the condition.  As you all may know, food allergies can have profound social and psychological effects on the daily lives of affected children and their families.  The link provided is only the abstract of the study.  So here are a few key findings from the study.

  • Surveys were given nationally to families in the US
  • A total of 38,480 children were studied
  • Food allergy prevalence was found to be higher than previously thought at 8% among children under 18 years.  (that’s about 6 million children in the US)
    • Previous studies have showed 6% (Bock et al, 1987), 4.2%  (Liu et al, 2010) and 3.9%  (Branum et al. 2009).
  • 38.7% of kids with food allergies had a history of severe reactions (anaphylaxis)
  • 30% had multiple food allergies
  • Interestingly, peanuts were the top allergen followed closely by milk.
  • Severity of food allergy increased with age.  So children ages 14-17 years were at higher risk of severe reactions vs. a 0-2 year old.
  • The highest prevalence of food allergies was in  children ages 3-5 years old.

This study suggests that food allergies in the US may have a greater impact than previously thought.  These types of studies are vital to the understanding of the impact of food allergies on the US population, and thus would help to improve the diagnosis and treatment of the conditions.  Below you will find the full reference.  If you have any questions on the study, just let us know.


 R. Gupta et al The Prevalence, Severity, and Distribution of Childhood Food Allergy in the United States. Pediatrics 2011;128:e9-e17.

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Food Allergy Living is a resource for parents of children with food allergies, brought to you by Nutricia, the makers of Neocate. For more in-depth information about our purpose & authors, see our About Food Allergy Living page.