Food allergies affect up to 15 million people in the U.S. and specifically up to 4 million children in the U.S. That means 1 in every 13 children are affected by a food allergy, so as a parent it is important to learn the latest on food allergies. Peanut is the most common allergen followed by milk and then by shellfish. Think about it- that can be up to 2 kids in a single school classroom of 25 to 30 kids affected by a food allergy. Between the years of 1997 and 2011, the percentage of children with a food allergy has increased by 50%. Remember, it is not just peanuts that cause a food allergy. The most common causes of food allergies are peanuts, tree nuts, milk, eggs, wheat, soy, fish, and crustacean, shellfish.
Now, let’s dive into the numbers of children affected by a food allergy. Food allergy affects up to 8% of children up to 3 years old, and peanut allergy, specifically, affects up to 3% children in Western countries like the United States and the United Kingdom. Peanut allergies have doubled over the past decade. Back in 2000, clinical practice guidelines in the U.S. and the American Academy of Pediatrics recommended to parents the avoidance of peanut and allergenic products in high risk infants by excluding allergenic foods from infants’ diet as well as excluding these foods from a mother’s diet during pregnancy and lactation. Clinical practice guidelines in the U.K. recommended the same at that time. These guidelines recommended peanut avoidance before the age of 3 years old. It was thought that these recommendations could help prevent a peanut allergy in a child. However, both the U.S. and the U.K. saw the opposite effect. Peanut allergy rates have doubled over the past 10 to 15 years.
It is tough to have a peanut allergy. Once you are peanut allergic, it is almost impossible to outgrow this food allergy. As peanut allergy rates increased, the clinical practice guidelines of early peanut avoidance in the U.S. were lifted in 2008. Recent research in the 2015 and 2016 Peanut and Allergy (LEAP) trials have shown that early consumption of peanut products in high-risk infants with severe eczema, egg allergy or both, reduced the risk of developing a peanut allergy by 80% by 5 years of age. “The Persistence of Oral Tolerance to Peanuts” (LEAP-On) trial published in March 2016 showed that the absence of peanut reactivity is maintained even without continued exposure to peanut products.
If your child currently has a food allergy, use this one helpful link (http://www.kidswithfoodallergies.org/page/choosing-safe-foods.aspx) as a resource to help guide you through food labels and the latest recall on a food item. This site reviews how to read a food label correctly to avoid exposure to common causes of food allergies.
The Baby Pibu team hopes to help parents learn more about food allergies and the latest significant research. Help spread the awareness of food allergies by sharing this blog and also by sharing your helpful tips on our Facebook page.