Allergies in children rise sharply in USA

2013-08 allergy trends

In recent years, children in the United States are more likely to have an increased risk of allergies due to food or the environment, particularly among wealthy families. The rise in this allergy “epidemic” is worrying because it increases the risk of potentially fatal respiratory illness or damage to the skin condition, which may require long-term care.


Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) show that the prevalence of food allergy in children under 18 increased from 3.4 percent in 1997 to 5.1 percent in 2011. During the same period, the proportion of skin allergies increased from 7.4% to 12.5%.


Many children not only suffer from an allergy, but several allergies. CDC data show that black children are more likely to suffer from skin allergies, while white people with a greater risk of respiratory disease. But these data also show that the prevalence of allergies increases with income. According to the CDC National Center for Health Statistics, young children are more susceptible to skin allergies, while older children are more likely to develop respiratory allergies. Hispanic children have a lower prevalence of food, skin and respiratory allergies than children of other races.


The researchers conducted an analysis of 9,000 to 12,000 samples representing the US population. The study was limited to allergy prevalence and did not determine what caused the allergy. Overall, there is no conclusive data to explain why there are more allergies among the rich. Possible reasons include wealthy family has health insurance to cover more doctor visits, their differences in diet and antibiotics usage.