Public Release: 

Almost half of food allergies in adults appear in adulthood

New study shows food allergies on the rise in adults as well as children

American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology

BOSTON, MA (Oct. 27, 2017) - When people think of food allergies, it's mostly in relation to children. New late-breaking research being presented at the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI) Annual Scientific Meeting shows that almost half of all food-allergic adults surveyed reported one or more adult-onset food allergies.

"Food allergies are often seen as a condition that begins in childhood, so the idea that 45 percent of adults with food allergies develop them in adulthood is surprising," says Ruchi Gupta, MD, MPH, ACAAI member and lead author of the study. "We also saw that, as with children, the incidence of food allergies in adults is rising across all ethnic groups."

The most common food allergy among adults is shellfish, affecting an estimated 3.6 percent of U.S. adults. This marks a 44 percent increase from the 2.5 percent prevalence rate published in an influential 2004 study. Similarly, these new data suggest that adult tree nut allergy prevalence has risen to 1.8 percent from a 2008 estimate of .5 percent, an increase of 260 percent.

"Our research also found that, among black, Asian and Hispanic adults, the risk of developing a food allergy to certain foods is higher than for whites, specifically for shellfish and peanuts," says food allergy researcher Christopher Warren, PhD candidate and study co-author. "For example, Asian adults were 2.1 times more likely to report a shellfish allergy than white adults, and Hispanic adults reported a peanut allergy at 2.3 times the frequency of white adults. Because many adults believe food allergies mostly affect children, they may not think to get tested. It is important to see an allergist for testing and diagnosis if you are having a reaction to a food and suspect a food allergy."

People may not recognize they have a food allergy, and believe their reaction is a food intolerance. They might not seek the help of an allergist for diagnosis, but allergists are specially trained to administer allergy testing and diagnose the results. Allergists can tailor a plan specific to your allergies. To find an allergist near you, use the ACAAI allergist locator.

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Abstract Titles: The Prevalence of Nut and Seafood Allergies Among Adults in the United States

Author: Ruchi Gupta, MD, MPH

For more information about allergies and to locate an allergist in your area, visit AllergyandAsthmaRelief.org. The ACAAI Annual Meeting is October 26-30, 2017 at the Hynes Convention Center in Boston, MA. For more news and research from the ACAAI Scientific Meeting, go to our newsroom - and follow the conversation on Twitter #ACAAI17.

About ACAAI

The ACAAI is a professional medical organization of more than 6,000 allergists-immunologists and allied health professionals, headquartered in Arlington Heights, Ill. The College fosters a culture of collaboration and congeniality in which its members work together and with others toward the common goals of patient care, education, advocacy and research. ACAAI allergists are board-certified physicians trained to diagnose allergies and asthma, administer immunotherapy, and provide patients with the best treatment outcomes. For more information and to find relief, visit AllergyandAsthmaRelief.org. Join us on Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter.

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