Food Allergies in Kids On the Rise

Allergies in kids are on the rise, but are kids really becoming more allergic?

ByABC News
November 13, 2009, 2:51 PM

Nov. 16, 2009— -- The number of kids with reported food allergies has increased dramatically over the past two decades, but are kids really becoming more allergic over time?

Whether these reports reflect more food allergies in kids or just more reporting of kids' allergies by parents has been a topic of debate.

Now new research from the CDC's National Center for Health Statistics offers compelling evidence that this spike in childhood food allergies is for real.

The study provides some of the "missing pieces" in our information on childhood allergies, says Amy Branum, lead author on the study and health statistician for the National Center for Health Statistics.

"Most of the studies ... up to this point have been in small populations and one demographic ... the fact that we are seeing increases in reported prevalence among children of different race and age groups gives more compelling evidence that these increases may be real," Branum says.

The study confirmed past findings that the prevalence for childhood allergies has increased at least 18 percent since 1993, and found that the number of visits to a physician, emergency room, or hospital clinic for food allergy-related care has tripled in that time period.

"[The] indication that more children are going to their doctors and emergency rooms for food allergies ... gives further evidence that we may be seeing a real rise in food allergy cases among children in the U.S.," Branum says.

Though the study cannot rule out increased reporting by parents as a contributing factor in this trend, allergists and pediatricians agree that food allergies in kids have become a growing concern.