Epidemiology of childhood peanut allergy

Dyer, A. A.; Rivkina, V.; Perumal, D.; Smeltzer, B. M.; Smith, B. M.; Gupta, R. S.

Allergy Asthma Proc. 2015 Jan 7; 36(1):58-64

Abstract

Although peanut allergy is among the most common food allergies, no study has comprehensively described the epidemiology of the condition among the general pediatric population. Our objective was to better characterize peanut allergy prevalence, diagnosis trends, and reaction history among affected children identified from a representative sample of United States households with children. A randomized, cross sectional survey was administered to parents from June 2009 to February 2010. Data from 38,480 parents were collected and analyzed in regard to demographics, allergic symptoms associated with food ingestion, and methods of food allergy diagnosis. Adjusted models were estimated to examine association of these characteristics with odds of peanut allergy. Of the 3218 children identified with food allergy, 754 (24.8%) were reported to have a peanut allergy. Peanut allergy was reported most often among 6- to 10-year-old children (25.5%), white children (47.7%), and children from households with an annual income of $50,000-$99,999 (41.7%). Although peanut allergy was diagnosed by a physician in 76% of cases, significantly more peanut allergy reactions were severe as compared with reactions to other foods (53.7% versus 41.0%, p < 0.001). Parents were significantly less likely to report tolerance to peanut as compared with the odds of tolerance reported for other foods (odds ratio 0.7, 95% confidence interval: 0.5-0.9). Childhood peanut allergy, which represents nearly a quarter of all food allergy, presents more severe reactions and is least likely to be outgrown. Although it is diagnosed by a physician in nearly three-fourths of all cases, socioeconomic disparities in regard to diagnosis persist.

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