The Center for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta just released its May 2013 allergy report that shows an alarming new trend. Between 1997 and 1999, 3.4 percent of children in the United States had food allergies. Ten years later, between 2009 and 2011, that number increased fifty percent to 5.1 percent of all American children.

Skin allergies increased from 7.4 to 12.5 percent, while seasonal allergies, or hay fever, remained pretty steady at 17 percent. The study showed that children from wealthier families were more likely to have allergies than children with families closer to the poverty limit, and that race did play a role in the statistics. For example, Hispanic children have the lowest allergy rates, while African-American children have more skin allergies and white children have more respiratory allergies.

The increase in allergies has many schools scrambling to keep up with the ever growing list of allergens, especially in regards to the school lunch rooms. Parents with children who have life-threatening food allergies are speaking up, in many states demanding stricter guidelines regarding lunches brought from home and better equipped nurses stations at the schools to prevent serious reactions from turning deadly.

Ramie Tritt, MD, President, Atlanta ENT