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Allergy. 2008 Mar;63(3):354-9. Epub 2007 Dec 5.

Prevalence and cumulative incidence of food hypersensitivity in the first 3 years of life.

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The David Hide Asthma and Allergy Research Centre, St. Mary's Hospital, Newport, Isle of Wight, UK.



Prevalence and incidence of food hypersensitivity (FHS) and its trends in early childhood are unclear.


A birth cohort born on the Isle of Wight (UK) between 2001 and 2002 was followed-up prospectively. Children were clinically examined and skin prick tested at set times and invited for food challenges when indicated.


Nine hundred and sixty-nine children were recruited and 92.9%, 88.5% and 91.9% of them respectively were assessed at 1, 2 and 3 years of age. Prevalence of sensitization to foods was 2.2%, 3.8% and 4.5% respectively at these ages. Cumulatively, 5.3% [95% confidence interval (CI): 3.9-7.1] children were sensitized to a food. Using open food challenge and a good clinical history, the cumulative incidence of FHS was 6.0% (58/969, 95% CI: 4.6-7.7). Based on double-blinded, placebo-controlled, food challenge (DBPCFC) and a good clinical history, the cumulative incidence was 5.0% (48/969, 95% CI: 3.7-6.5). There is no evidence to suggest that the incidence of FHS has increased, comparing these results with previous studies. Overall, 33.7% of parents reported a food-related problem and of these, 16.1% were diagnosed with FHS by open challenge and history and 12.9% by DBPCFC and history. Main foods implicated were milk, egg and peanut.


By the age of 3 years, 5-6% of children suffer from FHS based on food challenges and a good clinical history. There were large discrepancies between reported and diagnosed FHS. Comparing our data with a study performed in the USA more than 20 years ago, there were no significant differences in the cumulative incidence of FHS.

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