Feb 4, 2019

Food allergies more common among adults in the U.S.

Illustration:Aïda Amer/Axios

Groundbreaking new research has found that nearly 11% of U.S. adults have a food allergy, more than many expected, with a substantial number acquiring the allergies as adults.

Why it matters: Allergies force major accommodations to protect the vulnerable. This is a problem you'd expect to lessen with modern medicine, but it seems to be getting worse.

The WSJ recaps some theories behind the rise:

  • "[I]ncreasing use of antibiotics"
  • "[R]ising rates of C-sections"
  • "[I]ncreasingly sterile environments"

Between the lines: Researchers don't know if this problem is new, because it's never been studied like this before.

  • But doctors told the WSJ that, anecdotally, they're seeing more adult-onset patients.
  • Flashback to WSJ in 2017: "The rate of reports of severe allergic reactions to foods like peanuts has increased by nearly five times over the past decade, according to a new analysis of private insurance claims."

By the numbers, per the Journal: Nearly twice as many Americans think they have a food allergy and have symptoms consistent with a diagnosis.

  • 7.2% of women reported an adult-onset allergy vs. 3% of men, per the JAMA study the WSJ cites.
  • "[A]bout half of adult shellfish and wheat allergies developed after age 17, while fewer than one in five peanut allergies first appeared during adulthood."

The bottom line: These adult-onset allergies can be life-changing, affecting far more people than just the diagnosed.

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Live updates: Coronavirus spreads to Latin America

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins, the CDC, and China's Health Ministry. Note: China numbers are for the mainland only and U.S. numbers include repatriated citizens.

Brazil confirmed the first novel coronavirus case in Latin America Wednesday — a 61-year-old that tested positive after returning from a visit to northern Italy, the epicenter of Europe's outbreak.

The big picture: COVID-19 has killed more than 2,700 people and infected over 81,000 others. By Wednesday morning, South Korea had the most cases outside China, with 1,261 infections. Europe's biggest outbreak is in Italy, where 374 cases have been confirmed.

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