A study published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology found that only 3.6 percent of Americans have at least one food allergy or intolerance. This is significantly lower than previous estimates, which ranged from 5 to 8 percent.

The study was a comprehensive look at 2.7 million medical records from adults and children in the United States. Records were examined with years ranging from 2000 to 2013 in the Boston, Massachusetts region.

Of the 2.7 million sampled, 97,482 had a food reaction documents, with about half having symptoms indicative of mild to severe intolerance.

The spectrum of severity was wide, indicating that there is a “critical need for more allergy evaluations,” the study’s authors report.

Women and Asians were the groups most likely to have a food allergy, with an allergy to shellfish being the most common. The study also found that only about 1 in 5 patients complaining of a food allergy were tested for one with follow-up examinations. Young children were more likely to be thoroughly tested for food allergies than were adults.

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