The prevalence of food allergy (FA) has not been estimated at a population level in Central American countries and, consequently, the magnitude and relevance of the problem in the Central American region remains unknown. Thus, our aim was to evaluate the parent-reported prevalence of FA in a population of schoolchildren from the Central American country El Salvador. A Spanish version of a structured questionnaire was utilized. Five hundred and eight (508) parents returned the questionnaire with valid responses (response rate, 32%). The estimated prevalence rates (95% CI) were: adverse food reactions 15.9 (13.0⁻19.3), "perceived FA, ever" 11.6 (9.1⁻14.6), "physician-diagnosed FA, ever" 5.7% (4.0⁻8.0), "immediate-type FA, ever" 8.8% (6.6⁻11.6), "immediate-type FA, current" 5.3% (3.6⁻7.6), and anaphylaxis 2.5% (1.5⁻4.3). The most common food allergens were milk (1.7%), shrimp (1.3), chili (0.7%), chocolate (0.7%), and nuts (0.3%). Most of the "food-dependent anaphylaxis" cases (60.5%) sought medical attention, but only one case reported the prescription of an epinephrine autoinjector. Mild and severe FA cases are not uncommon among Salvadoran schoolchildren and both the prescription of epinephrine autoinjectors by healthcare personnel and the use of the autoinjectors by anaphylactic individuals should be encouraged.
Keywords: anaphylaxis; food allergy; parent-reported; prevalence; schoolchildren.