FoodFacts.com has always been dedicated to helping those with food allergies determine what is actually safe for them to eat. Our website allows members to track their allergens and those of their loved ones and children for free, so that they can be alerted if a product they’ve purchased or are intending to purchase contains the ingredient harmful to them or their families. Children’s food allergies are, undoubtedly, the most concerning. They can range from mild to moderate to severe. And just this past summer, the death of a young girl brought the attention of our country to the importance of vigilance regarding food allergies.
Today we learned that children’s food allergies are costing the United States about $25 Billion every year in medical fees, lost work productivity and other family expenses. Childhood food allergies cost the United States about $25 billion a year in medical fees, lost work productivity and family expenses, according to a new study. The study comes from Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago and the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine.
Food allergies affect about 8 percent of children in the United States. Researchers noted that in addition to the significant costs related to our health-care system, food allergies create financial burden for families due to required expenses associated with special diets and the purchase of allergen-free foods.
The researchers surveyed more than 1,600 caregivers of a child with a food allergy. The most common allergies were peanut (about 29 percent), milk (22 percent) and shellfish (19 percent).
Annual food-allergy-related costs were nearly $4,200 per child, which works out to $24.8 billion a year nationwide. The national total includes $4.3 billion in direct medical costs and $20.5 billion in costs to families.
Hospitalizations accounted for the largest amount of direct medical costs, at $1.9 billion. Costs for outpatient visits to allergists reached $819 million, emergency-room visits were $764 million and pediatrician visits were $543 million.
Special diets and allergen-free foods cost families $1.7 billion a year, the study estimated. The cost of lost work productivity that occurs when caregivers take their children to medical visits is $773 million a year.
Researchers concluded that childhood food allergies in the U.S. place considerable economic burden on both families and the society as a whole. They emphasized that research to develop effective food allergy treatment and a cure is critical.
FoodFacts.com strongly feels that food allergy awareness is critical to our nutritional awareness. This new research adds a new dimension to that statement. Everyone involved in the lives of children has a responsibility to be sensitive to the needs of food-allergic kids. We all need to understand the devastating effects food allergies can have on the lives of children and their families and go out of our way to accommodate those needs. We hope that based on research like this, both the scientific and medical communities go to work on tackling this tremendous problem, which is obviously not just causing physical and emotional stress, but financial stress as well.