Are Food Allergies Only a Problem for Children?

Food allergies have often been thought of as a childhood affliction but a recent study reveals this isn’t necessarily the case.

The study, reported on by Dr. Ruchi Gupta and her colleagues in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) Network Open, involved collecting food allergy survey results from over 40,000 adults and the data revealed some surprising information.

According to the results, 10.8% of the 40,000 adults surveyed reported symptoms consistent with food allergy and an additional 8.2% believed they had some type of food allergy, however, their symptoms suggested other causes. This means that one out of every five adults has some type of food-related symptoms that are causing them to avoid specific foods. The most common foods causing allergies in this survey were shellfish, milk, peanuts, tree nuts, and fish.

Of the respondents that had a convincing history of a food allergy, only 47.5% received that diagnosis from a physician. A significant percentage of adults with food allergy (38.3%) reported that they had been to the emergency room for a life-threatening food allergic reaction. Despite the sizable number of emergency room evaluations for food allergic reactions, only 24% of adults with food allergy in this study said that they had a prescription for an epinephrine auto-injector.

Another important issue identified by this study is 8.2% of adults who believed that they had some type of allergy, despite their symptoms suggesting other causes. Without proper testing or a diagnosis from a physician, these individuals may be avoiding foods unnecessarily, which may have consequences relating to the quality of life, nutritional impact, and cost.

In this study of adults, almost half of the participants reported developing their food allergy during adulthood. This study identifies the fact that adult food allergy, which previously has not received much attention, is an area that needs further investigation and study and is not just a pediatric medical problem.

To answer my original question, are food allergies only a problem for children, the answer is no. This study identifies adult food allergy as a medical problem that is both under-diagnosed and under-treated. In recent years there have been significant advances regarding the diagnosis and treatment of food allergy including Oral Immunotherapy, or food allergy desensitization, a breakthrough food allergy treatment program available at our practice. As always, adults with questions about possible food allergy should address their concerns with a physician.

– Dr. Jonathan Bell, Allergist and Asthma Specialist

At Advanced Specialty Care, our board-certified Allergists and Asthma specialists can provide testing and treatment for seasonal, food, pet, insect allergies and more, as well as asthma. We offer advanced treatment for peanut, tree nut, almond, dairy, egg and sesame allergies using oral immunotherapy or food allergy desensitization. Allergy and Asthma appointments are available in our Danbury, New Milford, Norwalk and Ridgefield locations. If you have questions about Food Oral Immunotherapy, allergy testing, allergy treatments or would like to schedule an appointment, please call our office at (203) 830-4700 or simply click here to fill out an appointment request form

Advanced Specialty Care is a multi-specialty private practice caring for patients in Fairfield County, CT for over 30 years. We are committed to the well-being of our patients. In addition to Allergy & Asthma, we have expertise in Audiology, Cosmetic & Plastic Surgery, Dermatology and Skin Care, Ear, Nose & Throat, Head & Neck Surgery and Hand Surgery. Our six, convenient Connecticut offices include, Danbury, New Milford, Norwalk, Ridgefield, Southbury, and Stamford. If you have questions or would like to schedule an appointment, please call our office at (203) 830-4700 or simply click here to fill out an appointment request form.  

You May Also Be Interested In:

Blog: Study Shows Effectiveness of Oral Immunotherapy for Treating Peanut Allergies

Blog: Do You Worry About Food Allergy When Eating in Restaurants?

Blog: Winter Allergies: Causes, And How to Treat And How to Avoid


Topics: Allergy & Asthma, Blog, Dr. Jonathan Bell