If it seems like food allergies are everywhere these days, that's because they are. According to a new study from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, food allergies are on the rise, now affecting more than 3 million kids. Approximately one in every 26 children has one, as opposed to one in 29 in 1997. The most common culprits include peanuts, shellfish, milk, and eggs.
Amy Branum, the lead author of the study, says that the 18 percent increase isn't just a fluke, but even the CDC isn't quite sure about the reasons behind the rise. To see the theories, read more.
Though about two in five Americans think they have a food allergy, only about one percent actually do. Most are merely food intolerances, which do not trigger an immune reaction like allergies do. But even so, food allergies are on the rise, according to the latest news:
A doubling in peanut allergies — noted in earlier studies — is one factor, some experts said. Also, children seems to be taking longer to outgrow milk and egg allergies than they did in decades past.
But also figuring into the equation are parents and doctors who are more likely to consider food as the trigger for symptoms like vomiting, skin rashes, and breathing problems.
"A couple of decades ago, it was not uncommon to have kids sick all the time and we just said 'They have a weak stomach' or 'They're sickly,'" said Anne Munoz-Furlong, chief executive of the Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Network, a Virginia-based advocacy organization.
But why the rise in peanut allergies, and why are kids outgrowing their childhood nemeses later? Some folks in the medical community hypothesize that our culture has actually gotten too hygienic. Thanks to clean drinking water and antibiotics, our immune systems don't have as much to battle, so they're battling foods instead.
What do you think lies behind the rise in food allergies? Do you have or have you ever had one?