Children with food allergies increases fivefold in decade: Study

Posted by Rita Mu

The number of Australian children with potentially life-threatening food allergies has increased fivefold since 1990, with an estimated one in 10 children affected by some type of food allergy today, shows new research.

The Murdoch Childrens Research Institute study, published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, assessed 5000 one-year old children, to determine their allergy to common allergic foods such as raw egg, peanuts, sesame, shellfish and cow’s milk.

Infants underwent skin prick testing, and those with any sensitisation to one or more foods were invited to attend an allergy research clinic to consume at least one of the allergy-causing foods.

The study found more than 10 per cent of the infants had an allergic reaction to a food challenge.

Lead researcher and gastroenterologist, Associate Professor Katie Allen, said the increase of allergies was similar to that asthma epidemic in the 1990s.

“If you went out into the community and asked adults how many had food allergies when they were kids, almost none did,” Prof. Allen said. “But if you walk into a classroom now, almost every class has at least one child with a food allergy.”

Professor Allen said the cause of increase in food allergies required further investigation, but could be related to changes in environmental factors such as reduced exposure to vitamin D, parasites and the age at which foods are introduced.

”So far, all we know is that it has something to do with modern lifestyles,” Prof. Allen told the Sydney Morning Herald.

Image: ifood.tv

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