How common is peanut, tree nut, fish, shellfish, and sesame allergy?

Recent studies suggest an increased prevalence of food-induced allergy and an increased incidence of food-related anaphylaxis.

The researchers performed a cross-Canada, random telephone survey. Food allergy was defined as:

- perceived (based on self-report)
- probable (based on convincing history or self-report of physician diagnosis)
- confirmed (based on history and evidence of confirmatory tests)

Of 10,596 households surveyed in 2008 and 2009, 34.6% responded.

The prevalence of perceived peanut allergy was 1.00%; tree nut, 1.22%; fish, 0.51%; shellfish, 1.60%; and sesame, 0.10%.

The prevalence of probable allergy was 0.93%; 1.14%; 0.48%; 1.42%, 1.18%-1.66%; and 0.09%, respectively.

Because of the infrequency of confirmatory tests and the difficulty in obtaining results if performed, the prevalence of confirmed allergy was much lower - so low that is was not reported in the abstract.

Some of the "culprits" in food allergy. Image source: Mcclatchy-Tribune.

Eight top allergens
account for 90 percent of all food allergies. The 8 top allergens can be remembered by the mnemonic TEMPS WFS:

Tree nuts (almonds, cashews, walnuts)
Eggs
Milk
Peanuts
Shellfish (crab, lobster, shrimp)
Wheat
Fish (bass, cod, flounder)
Soy


Eight top allergens account for 90 percent of all food allergies. See more Allergy and Immunology mind maps here.

References:
A population-based study on peanut, tree nut, fish, shellfish, and sesame allergy prevalence in Canada. Ben-Shoshan M, Harrington DW, Soller L, Fragapane J, Joseph L, St Pierre Y, Godefroy SB, Elliot SJ, Clarke AE. J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2010 May 6.

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