Although the prevalence and causes of food allergy (FA) vary by geographic location, large well-designed epidemiological studies in Asia are lacking. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the prevalence of immediate-type FA in the general population of Korean schoolchildren. A population-based,
cross-sectional study was conducted in 2010 using a stratified two-stage cluster-sampling design. In this survey, children aged 6‐7 years and 12‐13 years were randomly selected, and the presence of FA was determined by a questionnaire survey and assessment of specific IgE. After
adjustment for missing data, 3907 children aged 6‐7 years and 3975 students aged 12‐13 years who completed the questionnaire were included in this study. In children aged 6‐7 years, the prevalence of confirmed immediate-type FA was 0.3%, and the prevalence of possible
immediate-type FA was 0.3%. By contrast, 0.6 and 1.0% of children aged 12‐13 years had confirmed immediate-type FA and possible immediate-type FA, respectively. In 6- to 7-year-old children, egg was the most frequent causative food associated with a confirmed or possible immediate-type
FA. In 12- to 13-year-old children, crustaceans were the most frequent cause of confirmed immediate-type FA, and fruit was most frequently involved in possible immediate-type FA. This is the first nationwide population-based study of FA in Korean schoolchildren. Unlike in western countries,
the prevalence of immediate-type FA seems to be low. In 12- to 13 year-old children with confirmed immediate-type FA, peanuts/tree nuts are not common causes, whereas crustaceans are frequent triggers.
Department of Pediatrics, Samsung Medical Center, Sungkyunkwan University School of Medicine, Environmental Health Center for Atopic Diseases, Seoul, Korea
Publication date: November 1, 2012
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