OBJECTIVES: The goals were to estimate the prevalence of food allergy and to describe trends in food allergy prevalence and health care use among US children.
METHODS: A cross-sectional survey of data on food allergy among children <18 years of age, as reported in the 1997–2007 National Health Interview Survey, 2005–2006 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, 1993–2006 National Hospital Ambulatory Medical Care Survey and National Ambulatory Medical Care Survey, and 1998–2006 National Hospital Discharge Survey, was performed. Reported food allergies, serum immunoglobulin E antibody levels for specific foods, ambulatory care visits, and hospitalizations were assessed.
RESULTS: In 2007, 3.9% of US children <18 years of age had reported food allergy. The prevalence of reported food allergy increased 18% (z = 3.4; P < .01) from 1997 through 2007. In 2005–2006, serum immunoglobulin E antibodies to peanut were detectable for an estimated 9% of US children. Ambulatory care visits tripled between 1993 and 2006 (P < .01). From 2003 through 2006, an estimated average of 317000 food allergy-related, ambulatory care visits per year (95% confidence interval: 195000–438000 visits per year) to emergency and outpatient departments and physician's offices were reported. Hospitalizations with any recorded diagnoses related to food allergy also increased between 1998–2000 and 2004–2006, from an average of 2600 discharges per year to 9500 discharges per year (z = 3.4; P < .01), possibly because of increased use of food allergy V codes.
CONCLUSION: Several national health surveys indicate that food allergy prevalence and/or awareness has increased among US children in recent years.