HealthDay News — The prevalence of food allergy (FA) is 7.6 percent among children in the United States, according to a study published online Nov. 19 in Pediatrics.

Ruchi S. Gupta, M.D., M.P.H., from Northwestern University in Chicago, and colleagues administered a survey to U.S. households between 2015 and 2016 and obtained parent-proxy responses for 38,408 children to examine the prevalence of childhood FA.

After excluding 4 percent of children whose parent-reported FA reaction history was inconsistent with immunoglobulin E-mediated FA, the researchers found an estimated current FA prevalence of 7.6 percent. Peanut, milk, shellfish, and tree nut were the most prevalent allergens (2.2, 1.9, 1.3, and 1.2 percent, respectively). Of the food-allergic children, 42.3 and 39.9 percent reported one or more severe FA and multiple FAs, respectively. Nineteen and 42.0 percent reported one or more FA-related emergency department visits in the previous year and one or more lifetime emergency department visits, respectively; 40.7 percent had a current epinephrine autoinjector prescription. African-American children and children with atopic comorbidities had higher prevalence rates.

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“Overall, these findings provide critical epidemiologic information that improves understanding of the public health impact of childhood FA,” the authors write.

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