Almost half of food allergies in adults appear in adulthood

New study shows food allergies on the rise
in adults as well as children


October 27, 2017


American College of
Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology


A new study shows that almost half of all
food-allergic adults surveyed reported one or more adult-onset food allergies.

When people think of food
allergies, it’s mostly in relation to children. New late-breaking research
being presented at the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology
(ACAAI) Annual Scientific Meeting shows that almost half of all food-allergic adults
surveyed reported one or more adult-onset food allergies.

“Food allergies are
often seen as a condition that begins in childhood, so the idea that 45 percent
of adults with food allergies develop them in adulthood is surprising,”
says Ruchi Gupta, MD, MPH, ACAAI member and lead author of the study. “We
also saw that, as with children, the incidence of food allergies in adults is
rising across all ethnic groups.”

The most common food
allergy among adults is shellfish, affecting an estimated 3.6 percent of U.S.
adults. This marks a 44 percent increase from the 2.5 percent prevalence rate
published in an influential 2004 study. Similarly, these new data suggest that
adult tree nut allergy prevalence has risen to 1.8 percent from a 2008 estimate
of .5 percent, an increase of 260 percent.

“Our research also
found that, among black, Asian and Hispanic adults, the risk of developing a
food allergy to certain foods is higher than for whites, specifically for
shellfish and peanuts,” says food allergy researcher Christopher Warren,
PhD candidate and study co-author. “For example, Asian adults were 2.1
times more likely to report a shellfish allergy than white adults, and Hispanic
adults reported a peanut allergy at 2.3 times the frequency of white adults.
Because many adults believe food allergies mostly affect children, they may not
think to get tested. It is important to see an allergist for testing and
diagnosis if you are having a reaction to a food and suspect a food

People may not recognize
they have a food allergy, and believe their reaction is a food intolerance.
They might not seek the help of an allergist for diagnosis, but allergists are
specially trained to administer allergy testing and diagnose the results.
Allergists can tailor a plan specific to your allergies. To find an allergist
near you, use the ACAAI allergist locator.

Materials provided by American College
of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology
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