July 28, 2009

1 Min Read
General Public Misunderstands Food Allergies

ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill.—Food allergy knowledge in the general public is poor concerning the difference between food allergy and food intolerance, the absence of a cure, and current treatments, according to a report published this month in the Annals of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology.

“The public’s food allergy knowledge and awareness is critical to the safety of children with food allergy, especially since 76 percent of food allergy-related deaths follow consumption of foods outside of the home. Food allergy is a growing health concern, affecting an estimated 6 percent to 8 percent of children in the United States,” said Ruchi S. Gupta, MD, of the Mary Ann & J. Wilburn Smith Children Health Research Program at Children’s Memorial Research Center in Chicago.

In a national sample of 2,148 adults who completed the validated Web-based Chicago Food Allergy Research Survey for the General Public, researchers found “the public’s knowledge was strongest regarding symptoms and severity of food allergy, with nearly 95 percent of participants recognizing food allergy as a potentially fatal condition.”

Among the misconceptions, investigators reported that “almost half of participants erroneously believed that a cure exists for food allergy, and more than two thirds stated that a daily medicine could be taken to prevent a food allergy reaction. They also tended to overlook the necessity of strict allergen avoidance: more than 40 percent of participants indicated that other means exist to prevent life-threatening reactions.”

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