A new study from Northwestern University has found that food allergy reactions resulting in anaphylaxis and trips to the emergency room have risen sharply in Illinois. With emergency hospital visits up 29 percent in the state over five years’ time, the study found alarming changes in the demographics of allergy as well.
Traditionally, Hispanic children in Illinois had the lowest rate of allergy, but the study found that they’ve jumped 44 percent per annum in the past five years. Emergency room visits are higher for this sub-group and the reasons are unknown.
Beginning to affect all races and income levels.
“This study shows that severe food allergies are beginning to impact children of all races and income,” said lead study author Dr. Ruchi Gupta, a professor of pediatrics at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine and an attending physician at Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago. “This is no longer primarily a disease of children who are white and/or from middle-to-high income families. Nobody is immune to it.”
The study used discharge data from 1,893 emergency room visits in about 200 Illinois hospitals from 2008 to 2012. It was published in the Annals of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology.
In all, the Northwestern study found a 29.1 percent annual increase in food allergy admissions to hospital emergency rooms. In 2008, the rate was 6.3 visits per 100,000 children. In 2012, it was up to 17.2 per 100,000. Tree nuts were the most common allergen.