OBJECTIVES: This study aimed to characterize asthma and food allergy reporting and management in Chicago Public Schools. METHODS: Demographic and health data for students who have asthma and food allergy were extracted from the Chicago Public Schools database. Demographic and geographic variability and the existence of school health management plans were analyzed, and multiple logistic regression models were computed. Home addresses were geocoded to create maps of case counts per community area. RESULTS: Approximately 18 000 asthmatic and 4000 food allergic students were identified. Of asthmatic students, 9.3% had a food allergy; of food allergic students, 40.1% had asthma. Asthma odds were significantly higher among black and Hispanic students (odds ratio [OR] = 2.3 and 1.3, respectively), whereas food allergy odds were significantly higher among black students (OR = 1.1; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.0–1.3) and significantly lower among Hispanic students (OR = 0.8; 95% CI, 0.7–0.9). Only 24.3% of students who had asthma and 50.9% of students who had food allergy had a school health management plan on file. Odds of having a school health management plan were significantly higher among students with both conditions, but the likelihood of having a plan on file was significantly lower among racial/ethnic minority and low-income students, regardless of medical condition. CONCLUSIONS: Only 1 in 4 students who have asthma and half of food allergic students have health management plans in schools, with lower numbers among minority and low-income students. Improving chronic disease reporting and access to school health management plans is critical.
OBJECTIVE: The goal of this study was to better estimate the prevalence and severity of childhood food allergy in the United States. METHODS: A randomized, cross-sectional survey was administered electronically to a representative sample of US households with children from June 2009 to February 2010. Eligible participants included adults (aged 18 years or older) able to complete the survey in Spanish or English who resided in a household with at least 1 child younger than 18 years. Data were adjusted using both base and poststratification weights to account for potential biases from sampling design and nonresponse. Data were analyzed as weighted proportions to estimate prevalence and severity of food allergy. Multiple logistic regression models were constructed to identify characteristics significantly associated with outcomes. RESULTS: Data were collected for 40 104 children; incomplete responses for 1624 children were excluded, which yielded a final sample of 38 480. Food allergy prevalence was 8.0% (95% confidence interval [CI]: 7.6–8.3). Among children with food allergy, 38.7% had a history of severe reactions, and 30.4% had multiple food allergies. Prevalence according to allergen among food-allergic children was highest for peanut (25.2% [95% CI: 23.3–27.1]), followed by milk (21.1% [95% CI: 19.4–22.8]) and shellfish (17.2% [95% CI: 15.6–18.9]). Odds of food allergy were significantly associated with race, age, income, and geographic region. Disparities in food allergy diagnosis according to race and income were observed. CONCLUSIONS: Findings suggest that the prevalence and severity of childhood food allergy is greater than previously reported. Data suggest that disparities exist in the clinical diagnosis of disease.
OBJECTIVE: To provide insight into food allergy knowledge and perceptions among pediatricians and family physicians in the United States. METHODS: A national sample of pediatricians and family physicians was recruited between April and July 2008 to complete the validated, Web-based Chicago Food Allergy Research Survey for Primary Care Physicians. Findings were analyzed to provide composite/itemized knowledge scores, describe attitudes and beliefs, and examine the effects of participant characteristics on response. RESULTS: The sample included 407 primary care physicians; 99% of the respondents reported providing care for food-allergic patients. Participants answered 61% of knowledge-based items correctly. Strengths and weaknesses were identified in each content domain evaluated by the survey. For example, 80% of physicians surveyed knew that the flu vaccine is unsafe for egg-allergic children, 90% recognized that the number of food-allergic children is increasing in the United States, and 80% were aware that there is no cure for food allergy. However, only 24% knew that oral food challenges may be used in the diagnosis of food allergy, 12% correctly rejected that chronic nasal problems are not symptom of food allergy, and 23% recognized that yogurts/cheeses from milk are unsafe for children with immunoglobulin E–mediated milk allergies. Fewer than 30% of the participants felt comfortable interpreting laboratory tests to diagnose food allergy or felt adequately prepared by their medical training to care for food-allergic children. CONCLUSIONS: Knowledge of food allergy among primary care physicians was fair. Opportunities for improvement exist, as acknowledged by participants' own perceptions of their clinical abilities in the management of food allergy.