Peanut allergies in American children have increased 21 percent in the last seven years, new research claims.
Researchers analyzing childhood allergies found that children allergic to peanuts, shellfish and sesame have all increased since 2010.
An estimated two million children suffer from a peanut allergy, and researchers found it was more prominent in black children than white children.
Experts are unsure why the increase has occurred in the US, but previous studies have found this happens in more affluent families. New guidelines have been introduced to help parents introduce the peanut to their children when they are younger to prevent a severe reaction.
More than two million children suffer from a peanut allergy in the United States. This has increased 21 percent since 2010. Experts recommend for parents to introduce peanuts to their children early in order to prevent them from having a serious reaction (file photo)
Researchers from the American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology (ACAAI) in Arlington Heights, Illinois, surveyed US households from October 2015 to September 2016 on allergies.
They that an estimated 2.4 percent of children have a peanut allergy in the United States, which has steadily increased since 2010.
‘While 21 percent represents a large increase in the number of kids with a likely peanut allergy, the good news is that parents now have a way to potentially prevent peanut allergy by introducing peanut products to infants early after assessing risk with their pediatrician and allergist,’ said Dr Ruchi Gupta, ACAAI member and lead author of the study.
More than 53,000 households were surveyed and the data found that allergies for peanuts, tree nuts shell fish, sesame and fin fish all increased.
Tree nut allergies increased 18 percent since 2010 and shellfish increased seven percent.
It is unclear why this rise is occurring, but it could have to do with the economic status of a family.
A previous study from the ACAAI found that families with more money also had higher rates of children with a peanut allergy.
This supports the ‘hygiene hypothesis’ that children are becoming overly sensitized to allergens, which could actually impact their health negatively.
But researchers in the current study found that black children were more likely to have the allergy than white children.
The good news is that parents now have a way to potentially prevent peanut allergy by introducing peanut products to infants early after assessing risk with their pediatrician and allergist
Dr Ruchi Gupta, ACAAI member and lead author of the study
‘According to our data, the risk of peanut allergy was nearly double among black children relative to white children,’ said food allergy researcher and study co-author Christopher Warren.
‘These findings are consistent with previous work by our group suggesting that black children in the U.S. may be at elevated food allergy risk.
‘It’s important that anyone with a food allergy work with their allergist to understand their allergy and how best to avoid the foods that cause their allergic reaction.’
Why black children are more at risk than white children remains unknown.
The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases created new guidelines in January 2017 to introducing infants to foods containing peanuts.
Previous evidence suggests that introducing an infant slowly to peanut butter can prevent them from having a severe reaction later in their childhood.
The guidelines divide infants into low, medium and high cateogries for risk of having a peanut allergy.
High-risk infants also been associated with having severe eczema or an egg allergy.
These guidelines let parents know when and how they should introduce peanuts to their children to determine if they have an allergy.
For example, infants with no food allergies or eczema can be introduced to peanuts at any point in their childhood.
Infants who are high risk, on the other hand, should be introduced when they four to six months old.
Experts say these guidelines can help educate parents on the allergy and prevent severe reactions.