Wed Oct 22, 2008
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - About 3 million U.S. children have a food or digestive allergy -- an 18 percent increase over the past 10 years, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported on Wednesday.
Eight types of food account for 90 percent of these food allergies: milk, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, fish, shellfish, soy and wheat, the CDC's National Center for Health Statistics found.
Reactions range from a tingling sensation around the mouth and lips, to hives and sometimes even death in the most severe cases.
Children with a food allergy are two to four times more likely than other children to have asthma and other allergies, as well. The report found that in 2007, 29 percent of children with a food allergy also had asthma, compared to 12 percent of children without food allergies.
About 27 percent of children with a food allergy had eczema or other skin allergies, compared to 8 percent of most children, and 30 percent had respiratory allergies, compared with 9 percent of the general population under the age of 18.
Overall, 3.8 percent of boys and 4.1 percent of girls had food allergies, the NCHS found.
No one knows how or why children develop food allergies. Most children outgrow the allergy, although some remain allergic for life.
(Reporting by Maggie Fox; Editing by Will Dunham and Bill Trott)