This week is Food Allergy Awareness Week. It’s all a part of Food Allergy Action Month. Created in 1998 by the Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Network, now FARE, Food Allergy Awareness Week is honored each May to shine a spotlight on the seriousness of food allergies. By increasing awareness, we can encourage respect, promote safety, and improve the quality of life for the 15 million Americans with food allergies, including all those at risk for life-threatening anaphylaxis.
Food allergies are a growing problem in the US. According to FARE, researchers estimate that up to 15 million Americans have food allergies. This potentially deadly disease affects 1 in every 13 children (under 18 years of age) in the U.S. That’s roughly two in every classroom.
And, unfortunately, food allergies are on the rise. According to a study released in 2013 by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, food allergies among children increased approximately 50% between 1997 and 2011.
The number of people in the world who have a food allergy is growing, but there is no clear answer as to why. Researchers are trying to discover why food allergies are on the rise in developed countries worldwide, and to learn more about the impact of the disease in developing nations. More than 17 million Europeans have a food allergy, and hospital admissions for severe reactions in children have risen seven-fold over the past decade, according to the European Academy of Allergy and Clinical Immunology (EAACI).
The threat of food allergies is very real. Every 3 minutes, a food allergy reaction sends someone to the emergency department – that is more than 200,000 emergency department visits per year. A reaction to food can range from a mild response (such as an itchy mouth) to anaphylaxis, a severe and potentially deadly reaction. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control reported that food allergies result in more than 300,000 ambulatory-care visits a year among children under the age of 18. Food allergy is the leading cause of anaphylaxis outside the hospital setting.
Eight foods account for the majority of all food allergy reactions: milk, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, soy, wheat, fish and shellfish. Even trace amounts of a food allergen can cause a reaction. Peanut and tree nut allergies, which also tend to develop in childhood, usually are lifelong. In the U.S., approximately three million people report allergies to peanuts and tree nuts. Studies show the number of children living with peanut allergy appears to have tripled between 1997 and 2008.
Cow’s milk, egg and soy allergies typically begin in childhood and eventually may be outgrown. In the past, most children outgrew these allergies by school age. A recent study, conducted by researchers at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, indicated that children are taking longer to outgrow milk and egg allergies. Fortunately, the majority are allergy-free by age 16.
Fish and shellfish allergies also tend to be lifelong. More than 6.5 million adults are allergic to finned fish and shellfish.
There is no cure for food allergies. Strict avoidance of food allergens and early recognition and management of allergic reactions to food are important measures to prevent serious health consequences.
The more you know about your health, the better you’ll feel. At Good Days, we’re dedicated to helping people achieve a healthier and happier life. Helping people live good days, every day. That’s Good Days.
Source: Food allergy awareness week