Natural Foods Merchandiser

Food Allergies Pervasive, Study Reports

New research suggests that food allergies may trouble more people than previously thought.

About 11 million Americans suffer from food allergies, roughly one in 25 people, according to a study released March 22 at the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology?s annual conference. Seafood turned out to be the most common allergen, with 6.5 million people reporting reactions, many of them to shellfish.

Peanuts and tree nuts sicken 3 million people, said Anne Mu?oz-Furlong, founder of the Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Network, a co-investigator on the study. Though 55 percent of those who reported reactions to seafood sought care from a physician or emergency room, only 15 percent carried epinephrine, a common rescue drug.

?The unexpectedly high rate of severe reactions to seafood ... sends an alarming message,? said Scott Sicherer, M.D., co-author along with Hugh A. Sampson, M.D.

People with seafood allergies often believe they can manage their allergy by avoiding the food. But, Mu?oz-Furlong said, the high number of multiple reactions suggests that ?accidental ingestion is common.?

The research was based on telephone surveys in 2002 of nearly 15,000 people.

Natural Foods Merchandiser volume XXV/number 5/p. 10

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