The Epidemiology of Food Allergy
Purpose of Review
The past few years have seen an exponential increase in publications on the topic of IgE-mediated food allergy. Recent publications have greatly advanced our understanding of the global prevalence of food allergy, and have revealed new insights into risk factors for food allergy. In this article, we will review these recent developments, summarise the current state of knowledge of the epidemiology of IgE-mediated food allergy, and outline areas of ongoing research where gaps in evidence remain.
Recent publications reveal substantial differences in food allergy prevalence between countries. Data show that the incidence of food-induced anaphylaxis in developed countries continues to rise, particularly in children, although it remains unclear to what extent this is due to an increase in food allergy prevalence, or an increase in severe reactions among allergic individuals, or both. There has been considerable progress in understanding risk factors for food allergy. In particular, there is now good evidence that delayed introduction of peanut increases the risk of developing peanut allergy in infants with pre-existing risk factors for peanut allergy. A shift towards earlier introduction of peanut in these infants, now starting to be recommended in allergy prevention guidelines, may help to prevent peanut allergy in future generations.
Recent studies have defined the prevalence of food allergy in different regions of the world. These studies provide strong baseline data to measure the extent to which new food allergy prevention strategies, including recommending timely peanut introduction for high-risk infants, change the prevalence of childhood food allergy
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