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Data Shows Racial Disparities in Diagnosed Food Allergies

About 1 in 17 children in the U.S. had a diagnosed food allergy in 2021, new estimates show.

New research shows Black children and adults are at higher risk of having a food allergy than various other racial and ethnic groups.

A report published Thursday by the National Center for Health Statistics estimates 7.6% of Black children 17 years old and younger had a food allergy in 2021, compared with 5.3% of white children and 5% of Hispanic children. Food allergy prevalence was 6.6% among Asian children, which researchers said was not significantly different from the prevalence among either Hispanic or white children.

Overall, about 1 in 17 children in the U.S. had a diagnosed food allergy in 2021, according to the analysis, the findings of which were based on data from the 2021 National Health Interview Survey. Prevalence was similar at 5.9% among boys compared with 5.8% of girls. A study published in 2013 pegged the economic cost related to food allergies in children in the U.S. at nearly $25 billion annually.

The prevalence of food allergies in children increased with age, with 7.1% of kids 12 to 17 years old having a food allergy in 2021, compared with 5.8% of kids 6 to 11 and 4.4% of those 5 and younger.

Similar racial or ethnic disparities in food allergies were found among adults, with a second report out Thursday showing 8.5% of Black adults had a food allergy in 2021 compared with 6.2% of white, 4.5% of Asian and 4.4% of Hispanic adults.

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