Celiac.com 01/21/2019 - A population-based survey study of more than 40,000 adults in the United States shows that just over one in ten people had an allergy to at least one food at the time of the survey. However, the same study reveals that nearly 20% of adults believed themselves to have a food allergy.
Half of the adults with food allergies reacted to at least one food, while nearly 40% reported at least one food allergy-related emergency room visit in their lifetime.
How common are food allergies among adults in the United States? How severe are the symptoms, on average?
Researchers Seek Accurate Estimates of Adults with Food Allergies
A team of researchers recently set out to provide accurate estimates of the national distribution, severity, and factors associated with adult food allergies. The research team included Ruchi S. Gupta, MD, MPH; Christopher M. Warren, BA; Bridget M. Smith, PhD; et al Jialing Jiang, BA; Jesse A. Blumenstock, BS; Matthew M. Davis, MD, MAPP; Robert P. Schleimer, PhD; and Kari C. Nadeau, MD, PhD
There have been numerous studies on food allergies in children, but very little is known about food allergy in adults.
Food Allergy Can Start in Adulthood
The team’s results indicate that more than 10% of US adults, more than 26 million people in all, are allergic to at least one food. That means that food allergies are both common and severe among adults in the United States. Moreover, food allergies often begin in adulthood, rather than in childhood, as is commonly believed.
The team calls for greater scrutiny of adults with suspected food allergies, including proper testing and consultation to make sure patients are avoiding the correct foods, and not unnecessarily avoiding foods that are okay for them to eat.
The researchers are variously affiliated with the Institute for Public Health and Medicine, Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, Chicago, Illinois; the Department of Pediatrics, Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, Chicago, Illinois; Mary Ann & J. Milburn Smith Child Health Research, Outreach, and Advocacy Center, Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital, Chicago, Illinois; the Department of Medicine, Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, Chicago, Illinois; the Department of Preventive Medicine, University of Southern California Keck School of Medicine, Los Angeles; the Center for Innovation for Complex Chronic Healthcare, Edward J. Hines Jr Veterans Affairs Hospital, Hines, Illinois; the Department of Medical Social Sciences, Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, Chicago, Illinois; the Department of Preventive Medicine, Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, Chicago, Illinois; and the Sean N. Parker Center for Allergy and Asthma Research, Stanford University School of Medicine in Stanford, California.