According to the first federal study on the incidence of food allergies in children, food allergies in American children are on the rise, up 18 % from 1997.

Only last year, 1 in 26 kids was affected with now having about 3 million kids suffering from the disorder. Experts said that one of the reasons could be the fact that parents are more aware and quicker to have their kids checked out by a doctor.

The 18 % increase is significant enough to be considered more than a statistical blip but nobody knows for sure what’s driving this increase.

There has been seen a doubling in peanut allergies as well as children taking longer to outgrow milk and egg allergies than they did in the past decades and these factors could add to the increase.

Today, parents and doctors are more likely to link food with the symptoms of allergic reactions such as vomiting, skin rashes and breathing problems. A few decades ago, these symptoms were simply attributed to weak stomachs.

The study did not give a breakdown of which foods were to blame for the allergies.

Other studies have shown that 1 in 40 Americans have a milk allergy at some point in their lives, and 1 in 50 an allergy to eggs. Most people outgrow these allergies in childhood.

About 1 in 50 have allergies to shellfish and nearly 1 in 100 react to peanuts, which are allergies that persist for a lifetime.
Some people have more than one food allergy.

Children who suffer from food allergies are more likely to have asthma, eczema and respiratory problems than kids without food allergies are.

Besides the rise in food allergies, there is also an increase of children hospitalization for food allergies. The number of hospital discharges jumped from about 2,600 a year in the late 1990s to more than 9,500 annually in recent years.

The first racial/ethnic breakdown in a national study has shown that hispanic children had lower rates of food allergies than white or black children. The reason for that last finding may not be genetics but a question of awareness.