The number of U.S. children allergic to peanuts has increased by 21 percent since 2010, with nearly 2.5 percent of youngsters now having this type of allergy, a new study has found.
Peanut allergies aren’t the only ones on the rise, however.
The researchers surveyed more than 53,000 households nationwide between October 2015 and September 2016 and found that rates of tree nut, shellfish, fin fish and sesame allergies among children also are increasing.
For example, tree nut allergy rose 18 percent since 2010, and shellfish allergy increased 7 percent, according to the study. The findings were scheduled to be presented Oct. 27-30 at the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology’s annual meeting, in Boston.
The study also found that black children are much more likely to have certain food allergies than white children.
“According to our data, the risk of peanut allergy was nearly double among black children relative to white children,” study co-author Christopher Warren said in a news release from the college. “Black children were also significantly more likely to have a tree nut allergy relative to white children.
“These findings are consistent with previous work by our group suggesting that black children in the U.S. may be at elevated food allergy risk,” Warren said. “It’s important that anyone with a food allergy work with their allergist to understand their allergy and how best to avoid the foods that cause their allergic reaction.”
Study lead author Dr. Ruchi Gupta acknowledged that peanut and other food allergies can be “very challenging for children and families,” but “the good news is that parents now have a way to potentially prevent peanut allergy by introducing peanut products to infants early after assessing risk with their pediatrician and allergist.”
Both Gupta and Warren are researchers from Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago.
Research presented at meetings is considered preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed medical journal.
The American Academy of Family Physicians has more on food allergies.