Jump to:  A   |   B   |   C   |   D   |   E   |   F   |   G   |   H   |   I   |   J   |   K   |   L   |   M   |   N   |   O   |   P   |   Q   |   R   |   S   |   T   |   U   |   V   |   W   |   X   |   Y

Food, Skin Allergies on the Rise Among Children: CDC

THURSDAY, May 2 (HealthDay News) -- The number of American children who suffer from food and skin allergies has increased dramatically in recent years, a new government report shows.

Interestingly, the prevalence of food and respiratory allergies rose with income: Children living in families that made more than 200 percent of the poverty level had the highest rates, the statistics showed.

"The prevalence of food and skin allergies both increased over the past 14 years," said report co-author LaJeana Howie, from the U.S. National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS), part of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. "This has been a consistent trend."

With food allergies, the overall rate went from 3.4 percent in 1997 to 5.1 percent in 2011. With skin allergies, the overall rate increased from 7.4 percent in 1997 to 12.5 percent in 2011. The prevalence of respiratory allergies remained constant, at 17 percent, between 1997 and 2011, although it remained the most common type of allergy affecting children, according to the NCHS report published May 2.

Pediatric allergists noted that they have been seeing the trend in their own practices.

Dr. Vivian Hernandez-Trujillo, director of allergy and immunology at Miami Children's Hospital, said: "We are certainly seeing increases in food and skin allergy in pediatric patients."

However, why these allergies are on the rise remains a mystery, another expert pointed out.

"We do not know why there has been an increase, but the theories include the 'hygiene hypothesis'; that reduced infection and reduced exposure to germs has left our immune systems 'looking for a fight' and attacking innocent proteins," explained Dr. Scott Sicherer, chief of the division of pediatric allergy and immunology at the Jaffe Food Allergy Institute at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York City.

In addition, there are theories about insufficient vitamin D, unhealthy fats in the diet, the obesity epidemic and processed food, none of which have been confirmed with hard science, he noted.

These increases are real, Sicherer added. "They speak to a need for more research toward prevention and cures," he said.

"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."

More information

For more information on childhood allergies, visit the Nemours Foundation.

SOURCES: LaJeana Howie, M.P.H., U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Health Statistics; Scott Sicherer, M.D., chief, division of pediatric allergy and immunology, Jaffe Food Allergy Institute, Icahn School of Medicine, Mount Sinai, New York City; Vivian Hernandez-Trujillo, M.D., director, allergy and immunology, Miami Children's Hospital; John Lehr, CEO, Food Allergy Research & Education, McLean, Va.; May 2, 2013, National Center for Health Statistics report, Trends in Allergic Conditions Among Children: United States, 1997-2011

Reviewed Date: --

Find a pediatrician
Allergy/Immunology
Angela Duff Hogan, MD
Cynthia Kelly, MD
Kelly Maples, MD
Maripaz Morales, MD
Health Tips
Growing Up Short or Heavy Can Be Difficult
Helping Children Conquer Fear
How Old Is 'Old Enough' for Contacts?
How to Prevent Childhood Obesity
Kids' Health Concerns Ease with Age
What Kids Drink Is Important, Too
What You Need to Know About Hives
When Your Child Says, 'I'm Sick'
Quizzes
Allergies Quiz
Food Allergy Quiz
Diseases & Conditions
AIDS/HIV in Children
All About Allergies in Children
Allergy
Anatomy of a Child's Brain
Anatomy of the Endocrine System in Children
Animals
Anxiety Disorders in Children
Asthma and Children
Asthma in Children Index
Bicycle, In-Line Skating, Skateboarding Safety--Injury Statistics and Incidence Rates
Bipolar Disorder in Children
Bone Marrow Transplantation in Children
Brain Tumors in Children
Chemotherapy for Children: Side Effects
Cold vs. Allergy: How Do I Know the Difference?
Diagnostic Procedures for Allergy in Children
Diphtheria in Children
During an Asthma Attack
Dust Mites
Egg Allergy Diet for Children
Ewing Sarcoma
Firearms
Food Allergies in Children
Hepatitis B (HBV) in Children
Immune Disorders
Inflammatory and Infectious Musculoskeletal Disorders
Inflammatory and Infectious Neurological Disorders
Inguinal Hernia in Children
Insect Bites and Children
Insect Stings
Kidney Transplantation in Children
Meningitis in Children
Milk Allergy Diet for Children
Mold
Mood Disorders in Children and Adolescents
Muscular Dystrophy
Myasthenia Gravis in Children
Osteosarcoma in Children
Peanut Allergy Diet for Children
Pediatric Blood Disorders
Poliomyelitis (Polio) in Children
Pollen and Children
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder in Children
Preparing the School-Aged Child for Surgery
Schizophrenia in Children
School-Aged Child Nutrition
Shellfish Allergy Diet for Children
Slipped Capital Femoral Epiphysis
Soy Allergy Diet for Children
Sports Safety for Children
Superficial Injuries Overview
Symptomatic Conditions of Allergy in Children
Television and Children
Thalassemia
The Growing Child: 2-Year-Olds
The Heart
The Kidneys
Treatment for a Child's Allergy
Tree Nut Allergy Diet for Children
Types of Allergens
Vision Overview
Wheat Allergy Diet for Children
Whooping Cough (Pertussis)

Disclaimer: This information is not intended to substitute or replace the professional medical advice you receive from your child's physician. The content provided on this page is for informational purposes only, and was not designed to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease. Please consult your child's physician with any questions or concerns you may have regarding a medical condition.