Prevalence of Food Sensitization and Food Allergy in Children Across Europe

J Allergy Clin Immunol Pract. 2020 Sep;8(8):2736-2746.e9. doi: 10.1016/j.jaip.2020.04.020. Epub 2020 Apr 21.


Background: For adults, prevalence estimates of food sensitization (FS) and food allergy (FA) have been obtained in a standardized manner across Europe. For children, such estimates are lacking.

Objectives: To determine the prevalence of self-reported FA, FS, probable FA (symptoms plus IgE sensitization), and challenge-confirmed FA in European school-age children.

Methods: Data on self-reported FA were collected through a screening questionnaire sent to a random sample of the general population of 7- to 10-year-old children in 8 European centers in phase I of the EuroPrevall study. Data on FS and probable FA were obtained in phase II, comprising an extensive questionnaire on reactions to 24 commonly implicated foods, and serology testing. Food challenge was performed in phase III.

Results: Prevalence (95% CI) of self-reported FA ranged from 6.5% (5.4-7.6) in Athens to 24.6% (22.8-26.5) in Lodz; prevalence of FS ranged from 11.0% (9.7-12.3) in Reykjavik to 28.7% (26.9-30.6) in Zurich; and prevalence of probable FA ranged from 1.9% (0.8-3.5) in Reykjavik to 5.6% (3.6-8.1) in Lodz. In all centers, most food-sensitized subjects had primary (non-cross-reactive) FS. However, FS due to birch pollen related cross-reactivity was also common in Central-Northern Europe. Probable FA to milk and egg occurred frequently throughout Europe; to fish and shrimp mainly in the Mediterranean and Reykjavik. Peach, kiwi, and peanut were prominent sources of plant FA in most countries, along with notably hazelnut, apple, carrot, and celery in Central-Northern Europe and lentils and walnut in the Mediterranean.

Conclusions: There are large geograhical differences in the prevalence of FS and FA in school-age children across Europe. Both primary and cross-reactive FS and FA occur frequently.

Keywords: Causative foods; Children; Cross-reactivity; Europe; Food allergy; Food sensitization; Prevalence.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Allergens
  • Animals
  • Child
  • Europe / epidemiology
  • Food Hypersensitivity* / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Immunoglobulin E*
  • Prevalence


  • Allergens
  • Immunoglobulin E