Food Allergy Facts
Discover more about food allergies
We’ve put together our food allergy facts in order to help you further identify the causes of symptoms.
Food allergies are a medical condition in which exposure to food triggers an immune response. Often referred to as an allergic reaction this response occurs because the immune system attacks proteins (allergens) in the food that are normally harmless.
Symptoms of a food allergy range from mild sneezing, itchy mouth, hives to more severe throat tightening and difficulty breathing.
Anaphylaxis is also a possible and serious allergic reaction that is sudden in onset and can cause death.
Common Allergen Foods
Recent published studies between 2018 and 2019 estimate the number of Americans of all ages who have convincing symptoms of allergy to specific foods:
Shellfish – 8.2 million
Milk – 6.1 million
Peanut – 6.1 million
Tree nuts – 3.9 million
Egg – 2.6 million
Fish – 2.6 million
Wheat – 2.4 million
Soy – 1.9 million
Symptoms can present physically and even behaviourally. Individuals can suffer from more than one symptom and symptoms can change over time.
Sesame – 0.7 million
Approx 40% of children are allergic to more than one food.
There are over 170 foods have been reported to cause allergic reactions.
The 8 main food allergens are milk, egg, peanut, tree nuts, wheat, soy, fish and crustacean shellfish
These main allergens are responsible for most of the serious food allergy reactions in the United States every year.
Allergy to sesame allergy is a growing concern due to the increase in use in many processed products without the awareness of consumers.
Areas of concern:
The Centers for Disease Control & Prevention reports that the prevalence of food allergy in children increased by 50% between 1997 and 2011.
Between 1997 and 2008, the prevalence of peanut or tree nut allergy appears to have more than tripled in U.S. children.
- Allergies such as hay fever (allergic rhinitis), food reaction allergies and eczema can be found in all age groups in the United States. Asthma also linked to allergies affects more than 24 million people including over 6 million children. (Source: https://www.niaid.nih.gov/diseases-conditions/asthma)
- Allergies are the 6th leading cause of chronic illness in the U.S. with an annual cost in excess of $18 billion. More than 50 million Americans suffer from allergies each year. (Source: http://www.cdc.gov/healthcommunication/ToolsTemplates/EntertainmentEd/Tips/Allergies.html)
- People visit the emergency room about 200,000 times each year because of food allergies. (Source: http://acaai.org/news/facts-statistics/allergies)
- Peanut is the most common allergen followed by milk and shellfish. (Source: http://www.aaaai.org/about-aaaai/newsroom/allergy-statistics)
- Hay fever one of the most common allergic conditions causing symptoms such as sneezing, runny nose and itchy eyes. This condition is more often seasonal and can be misdiagnosed with an allergy to dust mites. Immunotherapy is seeing success in the reduction and severity of symptoms with success rates at around 85% of people.
- Between 1997 and 2011 the prevalence of food and skin allergies increased in children (under 18s) (Source: http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/databriefs/db121.pdf)
- Approximately 1 to 6 per cent of people in the U.S. have an allergy to latex.
- Health care workers are becoming more concerned about latex allergies. About 8-12 per cent of health care workers are expected to get a latex allergy. (Source: http://www.cdc.gov/healthcommunication/toolstemplates/entertainmented/tips/latexallergy.html)
- Insect sting/bite allergies affect 5% of the U.S. population annually.
- At least 90 deaths occur each year due to insect sting anaphylaxis. (Source: http://acaai.org/allergies/types/insect-sting-allergies)
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