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Prevalence of food allergy in Taiwan: a questionnaire-based survey

Authors


  • Funding: This study was supported in part by grants (DOH Grants 94-stu-02 and 95-stu-02) from the Department of Health, Executive Yuan, Taiwan.
  • Conflict of interest: None.

Abstract

Aim

Food allergy is common in children and adults, and could be potentially fatal in minor groups. It is important for physicians to identify the prevalence of food allergies and to recognise common food allergens to make precise diagnosis and choose correct therapeutic approaches.

Methods

We used a nationwide, cross-sectional, random questionnaire-based survey to estimate the self-reported and expert-screened prevalence of food allergies and to identify the common food allergens in Taiwan. In this study, the perceptional diagnosis of food allergies was screened by physicians according to descriptions of convincing symptoms and medical recordings; in the meantime, non-allergic adverse reactions to foods, including food intolerance or food avoidance, were clarified.

Results

A total of 30 018 individuals who met the inclusion criteria was evaluated, and 6.95% of them were diagnosed as victims of food allergies. The prevalence was 3.44% in children under 3 years of age, 7.65% in children aged 4–18 years and 6.40% in adults respectively. About 77.33% of the food allergy population had experienced recurrent allergic attacks. Systemic reactions happened about 4.89% in food allergies group. The most commonly reported food allergen in Taiwan is seafood, including shrimp, crab, fish and mollusc. In addition, mango, milk, peanuts and eggs were also important food allergens in the general population; while milk, shellfish, peanuts and eggs were common in children.

Conclusions

Less than 10% of the Taiwan population suffers from food allergy with different allergic symptoms to variable food allergens in different age groups.

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