Around 4 per cent of all children and adolescents suffer from a food allergy, and it's a problem that has grown by 20 per cent in the past decade.
In the USA, around 3 million children have a food or digestive allergy, and this compares with 2.3 million in 1997, according to a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Around 90 per cent of these allergies are triggered by one of eight foods: milk, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, fish, shellfish, soy and wheat.
Children with a food allergy are twice as likely to suffer from asthma. Latest figures show that 29 per cent of children with a food allergy also had asthma compared with 12 per cent of children with asthma who don't have a food allergy. Children who have asthma and a food allergy are more likely to suffer an anaphylactic reaction to food, which can sometimes be fatal.
Children with a food allergy are also more likely to suffer from other types of allergic conditions, such as eczema and respiratory problems.
(Source: Journal of the American Medical Association, 2008; 300: 2358).