Survey says child-food allergies on the rise

11:58 AM, Jun 21, 2011   |    comments
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MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. -- A new study says 1 in 12 children in the U.S. may have a food allergy, a big jump when compared to past research.

The study, published in the journal Pediatrics, found 8% of kids younger than 18 suffer from allergies. That's 6 million kids nationwide.

"It changes the how you shop, it changes how you cook. It changes everything," Minneapolis mother Tara Davenport said.

Davenport has 3 children. The oldest and youngest, both boys, don't have any allergies. Her middle child, 9 year old Ruby, is allergic to 9 foods including wheat, barley, oat, sesame, peanut, tree nut, eggs, and dairy.

Making lunch is a tough task. She has to make the boys lunch on one countertop and Ruby's on another. She washes her hands a half dozen times to avoid cross contamination.

"Its definitely a real thing that there's more food allergic and environmentally allergic children than there ever were," Dr. Julia Montejo, an allergy specialist with Fairview, said. She's noticed firsthand the rise in food allergy cases. "Of the children with food allergies, about 30/40 percent of them will have more than one," Montejo added.

The published study also found that 40% of child-food allergy sufferers have had "serious reactions." Peanut allergies were most common. Allergies to milk and shellfish were also quite common.

"Children have about a 20% chance of outgrowing a nut allergy. It's a lot higher for egg and for milk," Dr. Montejo concluded.

That happened in little Ruby Davenport's case. At one time she had 20 allergies so she was able to outgrow 11 of them. Tara Davenport also says constant education in the public has gone a long way towards more and more people realizing the seriousness of child-food allergies.

Options for kids also seem to be on the rise. "Breads have improved. There are more crackers and cookies; more of those sort of convenient foods," Davenport explained.

(Copyright 2011 by KARE. All Rights Reserved.)

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