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What's the Deal With All the Food Allergies?

What's the Deal With All the Food Allergies?

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,


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?


Join The Conversation
Briandiesel Briandiesel 8 years
My mom all of a sudden is allergic to shellfish and milk. I feel like I have some things I'm allergic to, but I keep on eating them. lol I haven't had any actual side effects other than gas and stomach pain.
rickimc rickimc 8 years
Something I forgot to mention in my post is that when my mom was pregnant, she craved peanut butter and ate it all the time. She wonders if that has anything to do with my allergy.
ilanac13 ilanac13 8 years
well i was talking to my sister-in-law last night about this cause she has a 6 month old and she was telling me that her pediatrician said that part of the reason is because parents are feeding their kids foods too early and that's not allowing the kids immune system to really build up enough to suppress the allergy. it worries me because i don't have food allergies and my fiance doesn't, but i feel like that doesn't mean that our kids won't
CestlavieSJP CestlavieSJP 8 years
I've been lactose intolerant since I was a baby, but get treated for it with NAET ( - it's sort of a reprogramming of the body where you get muscle testing (no needles, no painful test, etc) to find out if you have a sensitivity (your body recognizes that food/energy as being harmful) to a certain food. Then you get treated through a series of pressure points and take a droplet of this liquid which contains elements of that food) over a short time frame (a few days). I have a family member that does this for work and it's been TREMENDOUSLY successful for people with mild and severe allergies. Plus it's not a serious of drugs or inhibitors that you have to take, just a way of telling your body that the food isn't harmful and it shouldn't react to it. For anyone with severe allergies, I suggest you look into it! It saved me as I was horribly allergic to ANY dairy for a long time and now can eat it in moderation with no problem.
rickimc rickimc 8 years
I've had a peanut allergy my whole life. I am 28, and when I was growing up, I was the only one in my school with the allergy, but my classmates were always very considerate of me. My allergist said I would outgrow it by the time I was 16. When I was 15 was the first time I accidently ate peanut butter and I almost died because my doctor told my mom to just give me my Epipen and some Benedryl. I have not outgrown my allergy, and since I was 10, I started developing allergies to the protein in other legumes, although none as severe as the peanuts. The soy protein is the most annoying because it is in so much. I am not sure about now, but I know that mine has nothing to do with enivornment; it's just the way my body is.
Red-Sharpie Red-Sharpie 8 years
I agree that it's from trying to be too clean. I have a really good immune system, drink yogurt, raw milk, etc, for the bacteria and I have no allergies of any sort. I too grew up with animals in a not perfectly clean environment. I never get sick now.
margokhal margokhal 8 years
It probably is the superhygenic environment kids are constantly placed in. No exposure to certain substances means our bodies won't learn how to tolerate them. I only have an allergic reaction to shellfish [well, just shrimp; it's not worth "discovering" whether I'm allergic to other related things], and it's hereditary - my mother was allergic, too. I'm pretty sure I'm lactose intolerant and not actually allergic to milk, though. It sucks a bit because NOBODY else in my family has any allergies whatsoever.
darkoblivion darkoblivion 8 years
I've been allergic to lemons my whole life. Just lemons though.. no other citrus. My husband is deathly allergic to onions and has been his whole life too. He is 30 and is just as allergic to onions as he was as a small child.
Ikandy Ikandy 8 years
I developed a soy allergy 3 years ago, I also have allergies to peanuts and almonds...and also, as of last week grapes and oranges. ..the pesticides made me swell up scary:(
HariboLicorice HariboLicorice 8 years
I get the runs when I eat soy. :/ It is more of an intolerance though, that developed over the past year.
emileigh emileigh 8 years
Some doctors think it's because kids are being introduced to foods too early, particularly eggs and dairy. The body hasn't built up immunities against those foods yet, so it treats them as pathogens.
Spectra Spectra 8 years
I grew up in quite the non-sterile environment. My mom never really cleaned much and we had animals in the house. None of us had any food allergies. I'm pretty sure I developed quite a robust immune system.
cravinsugar cravinsugar 8 years
This isn't food allergy, but is weird and effects my ability to wear braces for body parts when they are hurt. I am allergic to: neoprene.
mtiger mtiger 8 years
I have no allergies...thank goodness!
gabiushka gabiushka 8 years
No allergies of any kind here, but I did grow up in a 'third world country' so that paradox might explain why.
Livvy-P Livvy-P 8 years
I'm allergic to tree nuts (almonds, pecans, walnuts, etc) but not peanuts - I love peanut butter! But my daughter is allergic to both peanuts & tree nuts, and there is a high chance that my son will have the same allergy. (And BTW, I did eat peanut butter when I was pregnant.) On my husbands' side, his father was diagnosed with Celiac Disease a few years ago. His doctor thinks that this is something that has been in his family for years, but went undiagnosed - symptoms were chalked up to having a weak stomach, bad digestive system, IBS, etc.
cravinsugar cravinsugar 8 years
This picture makes me want to barf fit haha, no more pictures with gobs of jelly oozing out! (I like a think layer of jelly thanks!lol)
Annie0818 Annie0818 8 years
I'm highly allergic to shrimp, walnuts, almonds, pecans, apples and peaches. When I have tried to eat, my chest feels like its closing in provoking an asthma attack and my face swells up almost immediately.
Dana18 Dana18 8 years
I am allergic to fish. If I eat it my throat closes. for some people it is life threating. My mom did not eat fish when she was pregnant because of the mercury in the water that affected the fish. I thing not having it while in gestation cause me to be allergic to it when I was born.
sparklestar sparklestar 8 years
I'm lactose and wheat intolerant. I just get fat with bloating and water retention when I eat them!
rc4480 rc4480 8 years
one thing i'd like to ask/add is the increase of babies who are allergic to formula. my nephew was allergic to infant formula, so my brother/sister inlaw switched him to a soy-based formula. according to their pediatrician, more infants are coming in with cow's milk formula allergy-based rashes than before. thoughts?
dkaufmann125 dkaufmann125 8 years
I think they are brought on by the fact that the gov't puts more crap in our food these days hromones, pesticides and god only knows what else. I'm a vegan and try to eat organic whenever possible
tlsgirl tlsgirl 8 years
I'm lactose intolerant, but no food allergies. Thank god, because they sound rather awful.
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