Food allergy: temporal trends and determinants

Curr Allergy Asthma Rep. 2012 Aug;12(4):346-72. doi: 10.1007/s11882-012-0274-3.


This review summarizes studies discussing temporal trends in the prevalence of food allergy as well as potential factors associated with the development of food allergy. In addition, we will address the potential hypotheses accounting for the apparent increase in food allergy prevalence. Studies suggest increased prevalence of food allergy. However, relatively little is known about its pathogenesis. This review aims to assess temporal trends in the prevalence of food allergy and discuss potential genetic, environmental, and demographic determinants. The search strategy examined the medical literature database MEDLINE (using PubMed) for the time period of January 1, 2002 to January 31, 2012. In recent decades, the prevalence of food allergy in general has increased by 0.60 % [95 % confidence interval (CI), 0.59 %-0.61 %] and the prevalence of peanut allergy by 0.027 % (95 % CI, 0.026 %-0.028 %), but it has now likely stabilized in developed countries. Genes, the environment, and demographic characteristics play a role in the pathogenesis of food allergy. Numerous environmental and demographic factors as well as gene-environment interactions may account for this increase in prevalence, but further studies are required to tease out their relative contribution.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Food Hypersensitivity / diagnosis
  • Food Hypersensitivity / epidemiology*
  • Humans
  • Prevalence
  • Risk Factors