In recent years there has been an abundance of anecdotal evidence suggesting an increasing prevalence of food allergies but epidemiological data using patients’ electronic health records (EHRs) remain sparse.
Now scientists have sought to provide hard evidence on allergy prevalence through an analysis of medical records of 2.7 million patients.
After examining the data from health records of US patients, they found food allergy or intolerance were documented for 3.6 per cent of the population studied.
Of the 103,659 identified reactions to foods, 48.1 per cent were potentially IgE-mediated (affecting 50.8 per cent of food allergy or intolerance patients) and 15.9 per cent were anaphylactic.
The highest rates of food allergies or intolerance were among females (4.2 per cent versus 2.9 per cent) and persons of Asian descent (4.3 per cent versus 3.6 per cent).
The study identified shellfish as the most commonly reported food allergy (0.9 per cent) followed by fruit or vegetable (0.7 per cent), dairy (0.5 per cent), and peanut (0.5 per cent).
Writing in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology , the authors said the spectrum of severity observed with food allergy highlights the critical need for more allergy evaluations.