The public health impact of parent-reported childhood food allergies in the United States

Ruchi S Gupta*, Christopher M. Warren, Bridget Marie Smith, Jesse A. Blumenstock, Jialing Jiang, Matthew Mason Davis, Kari C. Nadeau

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

73 Scopus citations

Abstract

BACKGROUND: Childhood food allergy (FA) is a life-threatening chronic condition that substantially impairs quality of life. This large, population-based survey estimates childhood FA prevalence and severity of all major allergenic foods. Detailed allergenspecific information was also collected regarding FA management and health care use. METHODS: A survey was administered to US households between 2015 and 2016, obtaining parent-proxy responses for 38 408 children. Prevalence estimates were based on responses from NORC at the University of Chicago's nationally representative, probability-based AmeriSpeak Panel (51% completion rate), which were augmented by nonprobability-based responses via calibration weighting to increase precision. Prevalence was estimated via weighted proportions. Multiple logistic regression models were used to evaluate FA predictors. RESULTS: Overall, estimated current FA prevalence was 7.6% (95% confidence interval: 7.1%-8.1%) after excluding 4% of children whose parent-reported FA reaction history was inconsistent with immunoglobulin E-mediated FA. The most prevalent allergens were peanut (2.2%), milk (1.9%), shellfish (1.3%), and tree nut (1.2%). Among food-allergic children, 42.3% reported ≥1 severe FA and 39.9% reported multiple FA. Furthermore, 19.0% reported ≥1 FA-related emergency department visit in the previous year and 42.0% reported ≥1 lifetime FA-related emergency department visit, whereas 40.7% had a current epinephrine autoinjector prescription. Prevalence rates were higher among African American children and children with atopic comorbidities. CONCLUSIONS: FA is a major public health concern, affecting ∼8% of US children. However, >11% of children were perceived as food-allergic, suggesting that the perceived disease burden may be greater than previously acknowledged.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere20181235
JournalPediatrics
Volume142
Issue number6
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 1 2018

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health

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