A new study suggests that the number of children suffering from peanut allergies has been steadily rising. While doctors have noted increasing diagnoses of food allergies for a number of years, this recent study attempted to quantify the increase by studying childhood allergy rates in a specific county.

The researchers analyzed children’s medical records in Olmsted County, Minnesota. They found rising rates of peanut allergies, a trend they believe is consistent across the United States. The study found that peanut allergy cases have tripled over just the past decade. Also troubling was the realization that allergy rates continue to rise each year.

Study leader Maria Rinaldi says that in 1999, two of every 10,000 children were diagnosed with peanut allergies. By 2007, seven of every 10,000 children were diagnosed with peanut allergies.

In speaking about the study findings, which were published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, Rinaldi commented, “No matter how we’re defining peanut allergy, we’re seeing this consistent increase.” According to the researchers, more than 75% of the new diagnoses were in children under the age of two.

Why are peanut allergy rates skyrocketing?

In this study, Rinaldi and her team did not specifically look at the question of causation. No one knows for sure what is causing allergy rates to rise, although there are a number of theories.

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