Why Allergies Are On The Rise


Allie Lemco Toren

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It’s difficult to ignore the recent prevalence of allergies in the United States today. Gone are the days of swapping lunches in the school cafeteria and munching on salty airline peanuts. Today’s world is full of allergy alert bracelets and nut-free, wheat-free, dairy-free, egg-free cookies. These changes are necessary, since up to 15 million Americans have food allergies today. In fact, food allergies affect 1 in 13 children under 18 years old: that’s an average of two kids in every classroom. And that number keeps rising—a 2013 study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) showed that the number of American children with food allergies jumped about 50% between 1997 and 2011.

Although this change may partially result from more children seeing allergists and receiving a diagnosis than in the past, that’s still a staggering leap. Of course, food isn’t the only culprit causing allergies—almost 8 million children in the United States experience respiratory allergies, and almost 9 million children suffer from skin allergies. Many children outgrow their allergies, but some struggle with them for the rest of their lives.

So what’s going on?

That’s the same question researchers are asking. Unfortunately, we’re not quite sure what’s causing this allergy epidemic. But we do have some promising theories, and researchers are closer than ever to cracking the code.

Anaphylaxis can be frightening, but being prepared will help you feel empowered to prevent a dangerous allergic reaction. Do you know all the facts?

Medical Reviewer: William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS Last Review Date: Nov 6, 2015

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