Kids' Food Allergies Up Nearly 20%

Cynthia Dermody

About 3 million children under 18 now have a food allergy--and the largest increase is in children under 5 years old. About 4.7 percent of babies through preschool age children have an allergy, compared to 3.7 percent of kids ages 5 through 18.

That's an 18 percent increase from a decade ago.

In total, about 4 percent of all U.S. children react badly from eating certain food, according to a new federal food allergy report released yesterday.

Eight types of foods account for almost all food allergies:

  • Milk
  • Eggs
  • Peanuts
  • Tree nuts
  • Fish
  • Shellfish
  • Soy
  • Wheat

Allergic reactions range from a tingling sensation in the mouth and lips, to hives and even death. The report also said that children with food allergies are two to four times more likely to have asthma or other allergies.

Many experts say the higher number is due to more parents being aware of the problem, and being more likely to take their kids to the doctor to be checked out for a potential allergy.

"A couple of decades ago, it was not uncommon to have kids sick all the time and we just said 'They have a weak stomach' or 'They're sickly,"' Anne Munoz-Furlong, chief executive of the Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Network, a Virginia-based advocacy organization, tells

What do you think? Are we doing something to our children's immune systems? Is food production to blame? What are your thoughts on the child/food allergy debate?

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