n South African Medical Journal - Epidemiology of IgE-mediated food allergy : continuing medical education

Volume 105, Issue 1
  • ISSN : 0256-9574
  • E-ISSN: 2078-5135



Despite the large number of foods that may cause immunoglobulin E (IgE)-mediated reactions, most prevalence studies have focused on the most common allergenic foods, i.e. cow's milk, hen's egg, peanut, tree nut, wheat, soya, fish and shellfish. Food allergy peaks during the first two years of life, and then diminishes towards late childhood as tolerance to several foods develops. Based on meta-analyses and large population-based studies, the true prevalence of food allergy varies from 1% to >10%, depending on the geographical area and age of the patient. The prevalence of food allergy in South Africa (SA) is currently being studied. The prevalence of IgE-mediated food allergy in SA children with moderate-to-severe atopic dermatitis is 40%; however, this represents a high-risk population for food allergy. Preliminary data from the South African Food Sensitisation and Food Allergy (SAFFA) study, which is investigating food allergy in an unselected cohort of 1 - 3-year olds, show a prevalence of 11.6% sensitisation to common foods. Food allergy was most common to egg (1.4%) and peanut (1.1%). Food allergy appears to be the most common trigger of anaphylactic reactions in the community, especially in children, in whom food is responsible for ≥85% of such reactions. In adults, shellfish and nut, and in children, peanut, tree nut, milk and egg, are the most common triggers of food-induced anaphylaxis.

Loading full text...

Full text loading...


Article metrics loading...


This is a required field
Please enter a valid email address
Approval was a Success
Invalid data
An Error Occurred
Approval was partially successful, following selected items could not be processed due to error