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Number of Children with Food Allergies on the Rise

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 By John Michaelson, Public News Service - MN, Contact
June 28, 2011

MINNEAPOLIS - If your child is dealing with a food allergy, you are not alone. A new study says the number of children affected is now one in twelve, and that's at the high end of earlier estimates. Minnesota allergist Dr. Allan Stillerman says the higher numbers may be due to our increasingly hygienic society, which gives people less exposure to germs and bacteria.

"And as such, it's felt that the immune system, instead of targeting itself and developing against infections, starts attacking otherwise non-problematic items, such as food allergens or air allergens."

Stillerman says for parents with young children, a common sign that might indicate a food allergy is the development or worsening of the skin condition known as eczema.

"A lot of patients under the age of five who have chronic, moderately-severe eczema, as many as 40 to 50 percent of them are found to have food allergies."

Stillerman says the good news is that at least a portion of those who suffer with food allergies as children won't have them as adults.

"Twenty percent of people will outgrow their peanut allergy; whereas for milk, egg, wheat, it's anywhere from 55, 65, even 80 percent of patients who will outgrow it eventually."

The study also found that almost 40 percent of kids with food allergies have severe reactions; about 30 percent are allergic to more than one food; and allergies are more common in minority children.

The study is online at www.faiusa.org

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