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Food Allergies Among American Children Increasing

CDC reports allergy-related outpatient visits tripled from 1993 to 2006

TUESDAY, Nov. 17 (HealthDay News) -- The awareness and prevalence of food allergies among American children has increased in recent years, resulting in a significant increase in hospitalizations and use of outpatient medical services, according to a study published online Nov. 16 in Pediatrics.

Amy M. Branum and Susan L. Lukacs, D.O., of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's National Center for Health Statistics in Hyattsville, Md., conducted a cross-sectional survey using data from the 1997 to 2007 National Health Interview Survey, and three other health, nutrition, ambulatory care and hospital discharge surveys.

The researchers found an increase in the number of reported food allergies, with the prevalence increasing 18 percent from 1997 to 2007, 3.9 percent of American children reporting a food allergy in 2007, and the number of ambulatory care visits related to allergies tripling from 1993 to 2006. The authors further note that, in 2005 to 2006, an estimated 9 percent of American children has serum immunoglobulin E antibodies to peanuts.

"It cannot be determined how much of the increases in estimates are truly attributable to increases in clinical disease and how much are attributable to increased awareness by physicians, other health care providers, and parents," the authors write. "However, the consistent increases across surveys and among children in all age, gender, and race/ethnicity groups provide evidence that the increases are not limited to a certain setting, reporting mechanism, or demographic group."

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