‘Allergy epidemic’ alert as 10% of infants show food allergies

THE prevalence of food allergies now tops 10% in Australian babies and may herald a new “allergy epidemic”, according to experts.

Researchers from Melbourne’s Royal Children’s Hospital and the University of Melbourne showed that more than 10% of nearly 3000 infants aged around 12 months had IgE-mediated food allergy.

Allergies to peanuts, raw egg, sesame, shellfish and cow’s milk were determined by skin prick testing.

Oral challenge-proven peanut allergy was found in 3% of the infants, raw egg allergy in 9% and sesame allergy in 0.7%. 

Around 6% of the children were sensitised to cow’s milk and 0.9% to shellfish, but these were not confirmed by oral food challenge.

Study author Associate Professor Katie Allen, a paediatric allergist at the Murdoch Childrens Research Institute, said her team was “astounded” at the findings.

“We predicted it could be as low as 1