Prevalence and Type of Food Allergies in Iron County School District Kindergarten Students Julie Goldthorpe, Cynthia Wright Department of Agriculture and Nutrition, SUU Research Questions Procedure Abstract 1) Does breastfeeding have an impact on the development of food allergies? 2) Do genetics influence the risk of developing food allergies? 3) How does the age at which children in Cedar City are introduced to certain foods compare with the age recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics (APA)? Two-hundred-twenty-five surveys with return envelopes were distributed to 37 % of kindergarten students in the Iron County School District (Utah) to be taken home to their parents. The parent or legal guardian were asked to answer the first half of the survey on behalf of their kindergartner; the second half of the survey asked questions regarding food allergies in the respondent (parent or legal guardian). Return of these surveys was considered their consent to participate in the study. SPSS 13.0 for Windows was used to perform chi square analysis. In order to estimate the rate and type of food allergies among children in Cedar City, Utah, surveys were randomly distributed to parents of kindergarten students. The response rate was 40.4%; results were analyzed using SPSS 13.0 for Windows. Over 93% of the sample were breastfed; most were exclusively breastfed until 4 to 6 months of age. The two most common allergies were cow’s milk and tree nuts. Cow’s milk also was the allergy most commonly outgrown. Data revealed a significant correlation between parents having a tree nut allergy and the child having the same allergy (P=.045) . Genetics does appear to play a minor role in the development of food allergies; environment (age at introduction to foods) may also increase the risk of developing food allergies. Results • There was a response rate of 40.4% • The only statistically significant result was that of a relationship between • a parent having an allergy to tree nuts, and the child having that same • allergy (P=.045). There appears to be a correlation between genetics and • risk of developing food allergies to tree nuts. • In this population, an allergy to tree nuts was also the most common • allergy reported on the survey, effecting 4% of the kindergartners. • Cow’s milk was the second most common allergy, effecting 3% of this sample population. • Cow’s milk was also the most common food allergy to outgrow, as 3% of the population • reported outgrowing an allergy to cow’s milk.. • Since 93.4% of kindergartners in the sample were breastfed, it is not possible to infer • anything relating food allergies to breastfeeding. Introduction Conclusions In today’s world, food allergies are becoming more common. According to Broihier (2006), food allergies affect up to six percent of children. While food allergies can develop in adulthood, most of them manifest themselves during childhood. Two factors related to the development of food allergies have to do with genetics and exposure to allergenic foods during early childhood. Since there is no cure for food allergies (one must simply avoid the food), knowing the factors that increase the risk of developing them is important. • The sample was not diverse enough to note any impact that breastfeeding might have on the • risk of developing a food allergy. • Genetics does appear to play a minor role in the development of food allergies. • Parents introduce their children to allergenic foods sooner than is recommended by the • American Academy of Pediatrics, which may have an impact on those already genetically at • risk to developing a food allergy. Results Limitations Parents who had children with food allergies may have been more likely to respond to the survey. The results only apply to kindergartners in Iron County and may have been different among another age group or in another area. The average age at which this population was introduced to eggs, peanuts, tree nuts and fish was much lower than the recommended time of introduction to these foods. On the other hand, children in this sample tended to first receive cow’s milk one month later than the age recommended by APA. • References: • Broihier, K. (2006). Got Food Allergies? Not Sure? EN Answers Common Questions. Environmental Nutrition, 2. • *Zeiger, R. S. (2003). Food Allergen Avoidance in the Prevention of Food Allergy in Infants and Children. Pediatrics, 111, 1662-1670.