Pediatric Allergies: Switzerland, Australia and the United States

I’m always eager to find new research and data on food allergies, and especially when it involves kids. This week, I came across new information about pediatric food allergies for three countries—Switzerland, Australia and the United States.

When you scroll down, you’ll see I’ve included some links to videos, including a Discovery Channel documentary on food allergies in America that came out over the weekend. These videos generally have a positive message about food allergies, but they also show interviews with people who have experienced anaphylaxis firsthand, for example. The families and their stories send a powerful message about the severity of food allergies and the daily stress that can come with managing them.


Switzerland

I’ve shared data on the prevalence of food allergies in Switzerland before, but have only recently come across an estimate specifically for children. When I emailed the aha! Swiss Allergy Centre about it, a member of their Specialist Team responded that approximately 5-8 percent of all children in Switzerland are expected to have some type of food allergy. These data come from an article published in 2005: Miles S, Fordham R, Mills ENC, Mugford M. A framework for measuring costs to society of IgE-mediated food allergy. Allergy 2005; 60: 996–1003.

From my quick scan of the article, it seems the authors base their estimate on a review of three studies from 1987, 1998 and 2002. According to the email I received from the aha! Swiss Allergy Centre, these data serve as an estimate of the proportion of children with food allergies for Europe. The Centre refers to European data because similar studies specifically for Switzerland do not exist. More data will be forthcoming as the EuroPrevall project, which includes Switzerland as a partner nation, continues to examine the prevalence, cost and basis for food allergies in Europe.


Australia

The Australian version of the television program “60 Minutes” recently did a segment on food allergies. I didn’t realize this, but Australia has one of the highest rates of food allergies among children in the world. Of children born in Australia, 1 in 10 has a food allergy. In addition, from 1993 to 2005 the number of visits to emergency rooms and hospitals for patients suffering from anaphylaxis doubled, as described during an interview with Dr. Kari Nadeau of the Stanford School of Medicine.

The video below has a brief interview with the reporter that interviewed Dr. Nadeau and a brave girl from California who was the first to successfully complete a clinical trial for patients with multiple food allergies. To view the full 13-minute segment online, click here. It has some heartbreaking stories that have really stuck with me.


United States

In the United States, it’s estimated that 1 in 13 children (or nearly 8 percent) have a food allergy, according to Food Allergy Research & Education (FARE).

The Discovery Channel, through a grant from FARE and Mylan Specialty L.P., released a documentary over the weekend entitled, “An Emerging Epidemic: Food Allergies in America.” Narrated by Steve Carell, the documentary presents interviews with adults and children with food allergies, as well as parents of food-allergic children. Dr. Nadeau is also interviewed in this documentary about her clinical trial. Overall, it has a very positive and hopeful tone—much more so, in my opinion, than the “60 Minutes” segment from Australia.

What are the numbers like from your country? If you have more current data to share on food allergies in Switzerland or beyond, please let me know. I’ll continue to provides updates on new research and data, as it becomes available. Thanks!

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