Researchers at the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences in Research Triangle Park, N.C., found food allergy rates were highest -- 4.2 percent -- for children ages 1-5. The rates were also higher in non-Hispanic African-Americans and in males, and the odds of male black children having food allergies were 4.4 times higher than for others in the general population.
The study, published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, used antibody levels to quantify allergic sensitization to common foods such as nuts, milk and eggs.
"This study is very comprehensive in its scope. It is the first study to use specific blood serum levels and look at food allergies across the whole life spectrum, from young children age 1-5, to adults 60 and older," study senior author Dr. Darryl Zeldin says in a statement. "This research has helped us identify some high risk populations for food allergies."
The researchers found the odds of experiencing a severe asthma attack were 6.9 times higher in those with allergies vs. those without food allergies.