New research currently being presented at the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI) Annual Scientific Meeting suggests that peanut allergies in children have increased by 21 percent since 2010, with nearly 2.5 percent of children in the United States potentially now suffering from the condition.
Led by Ruchi Gupta, MD, MPH, and ACAAI member, the new study surveyed more than 53,000 U.S. households between October 2015 and September 2016.
The research found that in addition to peanut allergy, rates of tree nut, shellfish, fin fish and sesame allergies are also on the rise, with allergy to tree nuts up 18 percent from 2010 when data were last collected, and allergy to shellfish up 7 percent.
The results also showed that the increase in black children was also higher than that seen in white children.
“The risk of peanut allergy was nearly double among black children relative to white children,” says food allergy researcher Christopher Warren, PhD candidate and study co-author. “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. 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.”
Although diagnosing a food allergy can be difficult, allergists are specially trained to administer allergy testing and can then tailor a plan specific to your allergies.
For those who want to introduce peanut-containing products to their children, new guidelines introduced back in January help take parents through the process of introducing peanut-containing foods to infants that are at high, medium and low-risk for developing peanut allergies.
The guidelines are based on groundbreaking research showing that high-risk infants (infants with severe eczema and/or a history of egg allergy) who are introduced to peanut-containing food early are significantly more likely to prevent developing a peanut allergy.
In the U.S., two new products have recently been launched to help parents prevent peanut allergy. The FDA-approved Hello, Peanut was launched last month, designed to be mixed into baby food to give infants early exposure, while SpoonfulOne Daily Food Mix-In, which aims to prevent not only peanut but also other allergies including milk, tree nuts, egg, fish and shellfish, was released just last week.
“Peanut allergies, along with other food allergies, are very challenging for children and families,” acknowledged Gupta. “While 21 percent represents a large increase in the number of kids with a likely peanut allergy, 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.”
The ACAAI meeting is currently taking place from Oct. 26 to 30 at the Hynes Convention Center in Boston, MA. To find an allergist near you, the ACAAI allergist locator is available online. JB