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Study: Almost 6 Million Kids Have A Food Allergy

by The Kid's Doctor Staff

If your child suffers from food allergies, he or she is not alone. One in twelve kids in the United States may have a food allergy, according to new findings based on an online survey.

The study, published in the journal Pediatrics, also discovered that one-third of those children had severe allergies, and that allergies were more severe in minority children.

“Allergies are a particularly difficult chronic condition because kids can’t escape food in any part of their daily lives,” said lead author Dr. Ruchi Gupta, from the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago.

The study took place online. 40,000 U.S. adults, with children under the age of 18, were surveyed.

Those adults filled out an online questionnaire about allergies based on a single kid in their household, reporting whether or not the child had any signs and symptoms of a food allergy, had ever been diagnosed with an allergy by a doctor, and had ever had a severe allergic reaction to food.

The results showed that 8 percent of kids had a diagnosed food allergy or convincing symptoms that indicated an allergy. The findings suggested that almost 6 million kids were allergic to at least one food. The most common allergies were to peanuts, milk, and shellfish.

“What was interesting was not just how many kids had allergies,” Gupta said,” but how many of those allergies were severe – cutting off a kid’s airway or causing blood pressure to drop. One of our big findings was that 2 in 5 kids who had allergies had a severe reaction or a life-threatening reaction,”

“There are a lot of misconceptions of what allergies are,” she added. “When you think of allergies, you don’t think of life-threatening.”

She and her colleagues also found that black and Asian kids had higher chances of having a food allergy than white kids – but that they were less likely to have that allergy diagnosed by a doctor.

While the findings can’t show whether or not food allergies are on the rise, Gupta thinks that’s the case.

Food allergy symptoms may include sneezing, hoarse voice, stomach pain, wheezing, coughing, nausea, vomiting, tightness in the throat, diarrhea.

Children can have food allergies as soon as they are born and are often due to genetics. Some babies are allergic to foods that the mother eats and can react to breast milk.

The best thing to do is to always know the ingredients that are in the food that you and your child are consuming. This way if they develop a reaction you can limit the potential allergic food easily.

If you suspect your child may suffer from a food allergy, ask your pediatrician for a consultation to discuss testing and possible treatment.

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