SEATTLE – About 1.2 million children and adolescents in the United States – or more than 2% of the non-adult population – have peanut allergies, new studies have reported.
Two separate studies – one based on survey data, and the other a longitudinal analysis of a large database of health care claims – estimated the incidence of peanut allergy to be 2.2% among US children and adolescents.
Among infants under 1 year of age, one study showed an approximately three-fold increase in peanut allergy between 2001 and 2017, with the most recent incidence estimated at 5.2%.
Both studies are reported here at the American College of Allergy, Asthma, and the Scientific Scientific Immunology Meeting.
The prevalence of food allergies, including peanut allergies, has been relatively stable in the United States over the past few decades, but there is reason to believe that the burden of peanut allergies among children and adolescents starts up in the plateau, Jay Lieberman, MD, from LeBonheur Children's Hospital in Memphis, tell MedPage Today.
He said that the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases guidelines sponsored recommend the introduction of peanuts (between the ages of 4 and 6 months) in high-risk children who are expected to reduce the number of childhood peanut allergies in the coming years.
"We cannot say that for sure, but that is hope if the guidelines are followed," he said.
In the research he presented, he and his colleagues identified children and adolescents aged 4-17 years with peanut allergies, using diagnostic codes and / or services that indicated severe reactions related to peanut allergies, such as anaphylaxis.
Estimates of prevalence are projected, accounting for data capture rates based on health care settings (40% outpatient clinics, 25% hospitals), 30% below codes, and patients receiving less presentations (8% -15% based on patient age).
Estimated annual incidence was defined as the birth of peanut allergy as a proportion of all 1-year-old infants, and the incidence of peanut allergy was calculated from the estimated prevalence, patients who aged returned to age 1 and adjusted for spontaneous peanut allergy growth (27% based on age 12).
Among the main findings are as follows:
- It is estimated that the prevalence of peanut allergy is 1.25 million (2.2%) in 2017
- Among children and adolescents diagnosed with peanut allergies, around 500,000 are diagnosed by allergies; 370,000 by pediatricians and managed by allergists; and 380,000 are diagnosed and managed by practitioners other than allergies
- Common comorbidities included eczema (63%) and asthma (61%), and one or more additional food allergies (35%)
- The incidence of annual peanut allergy at 1 year of age increases between 2001 and 2017, from around 1.7% to 5.2%
The researchers concluded that the increasing prevalence of peanut allergies among children and adolescents showed that the impact of peanut allergies might be greater than previously reported.
In another study, Ruchi Gupta, MD, from Northwestern Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago, and colleagues, used a national representative survey involving nearly 52,000 US households between 2015 and 2016, and also concluded that around 2.2% of children children and adolescents in the United States have peanut allergies. The data shows the following, that among children with peanut allergies:
59.2% (95% CI, 53.6-64.6) have experienced a severe reaction
54.8% (95% CI, 49.1-60.3) have many food allergies
73.0% (95% CI, 68.0-77.5) prescribed epinephrine at this time
50.4% (95% CI, 44.9-55.0) had at least one emergency visit (ED), with 22.9% (95% CI, 19.1-27.2) having had ED visits during last year
Still needed, said Gupta and co-authors, is an additional study to better understand the potential predictors of adult food allergies.
The study by Lieberman and colleagues was funded by Aimmune Therapeutics.
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