Life-Altering Epidemic Now Afflicts One in 25 Americans
The incidence of food allergy has skyrocketed, doubling in the last 10 years, and scientists aren't sure why. More than 12 million Americans – one in 25 – are caught up in this life-altering epidemic.
Among them are 2.2 million school-age children. For them, as well as for their parents, back-to-school is an especially anxious time.
That's because food allergy is not the harmless, whimsical condition some people still seem to think it is.
"Food allergy is serious, and it's life-threatening," says Anne Muñoz-Furlong, founder and CEO of the Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Network (FAAN). "Just one bite of the wrong food can bring on anaphylaxis – a severe allergic reaction that can cause death. Even trace amounts can be enough to cause problems – sometimes just through skin contact, or from inhalation when food is being cooked."
Food allergy is the leading cause of anaphylaxis outside the hospital setting in the U.S. and results in 150-200 deaths and more than 30,000 emergency room visits each year. There is no known cure; strict avoidance is the only way to prevent a reaction.