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J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2004 Jul;114(1):159-65.

Prevalence of seafood allergy in the United States determined by a random telephone survey.

Author information

1
Elliot and Roslyn Jaffe Food Allergy Institute, Division of Allergy and Immunology, Department of Pediatrics, Mount Sinai School of Medicine, New York, NY 10029-6574, USA. scott.sicherer@mssm.edu

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Seafood allergy is potentially severe, but the prevalence of this group of food allergies in the US population has not been determined.

OBJECTIVE:

To estimate the prevalence of seafood (fish, shellfish) allergy in the United States.

METHODS:

We performed a nationwide, cross-sectional, random telephone survey by using a standardized questionnaire. Criteria were established in advance to define seafood allergy by report of convincing symptoms and physician evaluation.

RESULTS:

A total of 5529 households completed the survey (67.3% participation rate), representing a census of 14,948 individuals. Fish or shellfish allergy defined by established criteria was reported in 5.9% (95% CI, 5.3%-6.6%) of households and among individuals as follows: 2.3% (95% CI, 2%-2.5%) for any seafood allergy, 2% for shellfish, 0.4% for fish, and 0.2% for both types. Seafood allergy was more common in adults compared with children (2.8% vs 0.6%; P <.001) and in women compared with men (3.6% vs 2%; P <.001). Recurrent reactions were reported by 58%, dyspnea or throat tightness was reported by more than 50%, and 16% were treated with epinephrine. Despite this level of acuity, only 8.6% were prescribed self-injectable epinephrine. The rate of reactions to multiple fish among those with any fish allergy was 67%; for Crustacea the rate was 38%, and for mollusks the rate was 49%; only 14% with crustacean allergy reported a mollusk allergy.

CONCLUSIONS:

Physician-diagnosed and/or convincing seafood allergy is reported by 2.3% of the general population, or approximately 6.6 million Americans. Affected individuals typically report recurrent and sometimes severe reactions, indicating that seafood allergy represents a significant health concern.

Comment in

PMID:
15241360
DOI:
10.1016/j.jaci.2004.04.018
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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