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Peanut allergy in children on the rise?

The prevalence of peanut allergy and tree nut allergy has been increasing in the past decade, according to a study.

The prevalence of peanut or tree nut allergy in children younger than 18 years increased to 2.1 percent in 2008 from 0.6 percent in 1997, the study showed.

Sicherer S. H. and colleagues from Mount Sinai School of Medicine published the study on May 10, 2010 online in The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology.

For the study, the authors surveyed a total of 5,300 households with 13,534 subjects in 2008.

They found the prevalence of peanut allergy in children in 2008 was 1.4 percent compared with 0.8 percent in 2002 and 0.2 percent in 1997.

The cases of peanut allergy were self-reported.  Because of this, the current survey may overestimate the prevalence.

On May 6, Ben-Shoshan M and colleagues from McGill University Health Center published an article in the same journal saying the prevalence of confirmed allergy was much lower.

Jimmy Downs