Background: The national prevalence and patterns of food allergy (FA) in the United States are not well understood.
Objective: We developed nationally representative estimates of the prevalence of and demographic risk factors for FA and investigated associations of FA with asthma, hay fever, and eczema.
Methods: A total of 8203 participants in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey 2005-2006 had food-specific serum IgE measured to peanut, cow's milk, egg white, and shrimp. Food-specific IgE and age-based criteria were used to define likely FA (LFA), possible FA, and unlikely FA and to develop estimates of clinical FA. Self-reported data were used to evaluate demographic risk factors and associations with asthma and related conditions.
Results: In the United States, the estimated prevalence of clinical FA was 2.5% (peanut, 1.3%; milk, 0.4%; egg, 0.2%; shrimp, 1.0%; not mutually exclusive). Risk of possible FA/LFA was increased in non-Hispanic blacks (odds ratio, 3.06; 95% CI, 2.14-4.36), males (1.87; 1.32-2.66), and children (2.04; 1.42-2.93). Study participants with doctor-diagnosed asthma (vs no asthma) exhibited increased risk of all measures of food sensitization. Moreover, in those with LFA, the adjusted odds ratio for current asthma (3.8; 1.5-10.7) and an emergency department visit for asthma in the past year (6.9; 2.4-19.7) were both notably increased.
Conclusion: Population-based serologic data on 4 foods indicate an estimated 2.5% of the US population has FA, and increased risk was found for black subjects, male subjects, and children. In addition, FA could be an under-recognized risk factor for problematic asthma.
Copyright © 2010 American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology. Published by Mosby, Inc. All rights reserved.