Background The prevalence of adverse reactions to food in childhood in Turkey is not known.
Objective We aimed to investigate the prevalence and characteristics of IgE-mediated food allergies (FAs) in 6–9-year-old urban schoolchildren.
Methods This cross-sectional study recruited 3500 of the randomly selected 6–9-year-old urban schoolchildren from the eastern Black Sea region of Turkey during 2006. Following a self-administered questionnaire completed by the parents and the child, consenting children were invited for skin prick tests (SPTs) and oral food challenges. Children with suspected IgE-mediated FA were skin prick tested with a predefined panel of food allergens (milk, hen's egg, soy, wheat, peanut, fish, and hazelnut), aeroallergens (Dermatophagoides pteronyssinus, Dermatophagoides farinae, cat, dog, Alternaria, grass pollen mix, weed pollen mix, and tree pollen mix), and food allergens reported in the questionnaire. All children with a positive SPT to any food were invited for a double-blind, placebo-controlled food challenge (DBPCFC). The prevalence of IgE-mediated FA was established using DBPCFCs.
Results The response rate to the questionnaire was 78.2% (2739/3500). The estimated prevalence of parental-reported IgE-mediated FA was 5.7% (156/2739) [95% confidence interval (CI), 4.83–6.57%]. The rate of sensitization to the food allergens was 33.1% (48/145) in the parental-reported group. The confirmed prevalence of IgE-mediated FA by means of DBPCFC in 6–9-year-old urban schoolchildren living in the eastern Black Sea region of Turkey was 0.80% (22/2739) (95% CI, 0.47–1.13%). The most common allergenic foods were beef (31.8%), cow's milk (18.1%), cocoa (18.1%), hen's egg (13.6%), and kiwi (13.6%).
Conclusions The rate of reported IgE-mediated FA was significantly higher than clinically confirmed FA by means of DBPCFC (odds ratio, 7.46; 95% CI, 4.67–12.01; P<0.0001). The order of allergenic foods was different and somewhat unique to the eastern Black Sea region of Turkey when compared with western countries.