Statcast Number 9 Transcript

DATE: October 22, 2008

PUBLICATION: “Food Allergy Among U.S. Children: Trends in Prevalence and Hospitalizations”

SPOKESPERSON: Amy Branum, a statistician with the CDC National Center for Health Statistics, discusses the findings in the first-ever NCHS report on food allergies among children in the U.S.

BRANUM: Approximately three million children under age 18 in the U.S. had a reported food allergy in 2007…

ANNOUNCER: “StatCast… October 22, 2008…”

ANNOUNCER: We’re joined by Amy Branum, a health statistician with the National Center for Health Statistics. Amy is the lead author on the first-ever NCHS report on food allergies among children in the U.S. Amy, how many kids in the U.S. have food allergies?

BRANUM: Approximately three million children under age 18 in the U.S. had a reported food allergy in 2007….

ANNOUNCER: Years ago, we never heard much about a lot of these food allergies. Is this a relatively new phenomenon?

BRANUM: What we know from what the data show us, is that there has been an 18% increase in reported food allergy among children. And this goes back to 1997, which is the first year we have available data on the national estimate of food allergies in children.

ANNOUNCER: And do we know why there’s been an increase?

BRANUM: Well our data can not tell us for sure why food allergy appears to increasing and it’s possible that this increase has been due to increasing awareness among parents due to the amount of food allergy reported in the media in recent years. However, more research will be needed to determined what might be contributing to this increase.

ANNOUNCER: What are the most common foods associated with food allergies and kids?

BRANUM: There’s about eight types of food that make up about 90% of all the allergies, and those include milk, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, fish, shellfish, soy and wheat.

ANNOUNCER: What are some of the health risks associated with food allergies?

BRANUM: Well, our data show there is a very high co-occurrence of conditions such as asthma, skin allergy or eczema, and respiratory allergies that co-exist with food allergy.

ANNOUNCER: Do we know how many children will continue to have these food allergies as they mature into adulthood?

BRANUM: Clinical studies show us that the majority of children diagnosed with food allergy at a young age will go on to outgrow it. However, more research is needed to understand the types of children who do or do not outgrow their food allergies.

ANNOUNCER: Are there certain populations or groups more prone to these food allergies?

BRANUM: Up till now we haven’t really had good data on differences in food allergey according to race/ethnicity or even age groups. But our data show us that young children have a higher prevalence of food allergy compared to older children, and non-Hispanic white and non-Hispanic black children have higher prevalences of food allergy compared with Hispanic children.

ANNOUNCER: Any other findings of significance in the study that you’d like to mention?

BRANUM: We also have data in the Brief from the National Hospital Discharge Survey, which also shows that any diagnosis related to food allergy have also increased in recent years. This could actually support the evidence we have about increasing food allergies as these trends come from different data sources and both show increases over time.

ANNOUNCER: So are food allergies then causing a big strain on the health care system?

BRANUM: We don’t know that by the data we have, but given the large increases, particularly in recent years, it can be assumed that this would be putting a larger burden on the health care system.

ANNOUNCER: Our thanks to Amy Branum for joining us on this edition of “StatCast.” “StatCast” is produced by the Public Affairs Office at the National Center for Health Statistics.


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