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Self-Reported Peanut, Tree Nut Allergies in Children on the Rise

Self-reported prevalence of peanut allergies in those under 18 has more than tripled since 1997

MONDAY, May 24 (HealthDay News) -- Although the number of adults allergic to peanuts, tree nuts and sesame seems to have remained relatively stable since 1997, the prevalence of self-reported peanut and tree nut allergies in children has climbed substantially, according to research published online May 12 in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology.

Scott H. Sicherer, M.D., of the Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York City, and colleagues conducted a nationwide, cross-sectional random telephone survey of 5,300 households (13,534 individuals) to determine the prevalence of self-reported peanut, tree nut and sesame allergies in the U.S. population in 2008 compared to results of surveys conducted in 1997 and 2002.

The researchers found that a peanut and/or tree nut allergy was reported by 1.4 percent of those surveyed compared to 1.2 percent and 1.4 percent in 2002 and 1997, respectively. The prevalence in adults was not significantly different from past surveys, but in children under 18 the prevalence of peanut and/or tree nut allergy was 2.1 percent, up from 1.2 percent and 0.6 percent in 2002 and 1997, respectively. The rate of peanut allergies in children had more than tripled since the 1997 survey (1.4 percent versus 0.4 percent), and the rate of tree nut allergies had also increased substantially (1.1 percent versus 0.2 percent). Sesame allergies were reported by 0.1 percent in 2008.

"Although caution is required in comparing surveys, peanut and/or tree nut allergy continues to be reported by over 1 percent of the U.S. population (e.g., over 3 million individuals) and appears to be increasingly reported among children over the past decade. Sesame allergy is reported much less commonly," the authors write.

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