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Journal of Allergy
Volume 2012 (2012), Article ID 858306, 6 pages
Research Article

Demographic Predictors of Peanut, Tree Nut, Fish, Shellfish, and Sesame Allergy in Canada

1Division of Pediatric Allergy and Clinical Immunology, Department of Pediatrics, Montreal Children's Hospital, 2300 Tupper Street, Montreal, QC, Canada H3H 1P3
2School of Geography and Earth Sciences, McMaster University, Hamilton, ON, Canada L8S 4L8
3Division of Clinical Epidemiology, Department of Medicine, McGill University Health Center, Canada
4Departments of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, McGill University, QC, Canada H3A 3R1
5Food Directorate, Health Canada, Ottawa, ON, Canada K1A 0K9
6Applied Health Sciences, University of Waterloo, ON, Canada N2L 3G1
7Division of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, Department of Medicine, McGill University Health Center, QC, Canada H3H 2R9

Received 23 March 2011; Revised 20 October 2011; Accepted 21 October 2011

Academic Editor: Mary Beth Hogan

Copyright © 2012 M. Ben-Shoshan et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Background. Studies suggest that the rising prevalence of food allergy during recent decades may have stabilized. Although genetics undoubtedly contribute to the emergence of food allergy, it is likely that other factors play a crucial role in mediating such short-term changes. Objective. To identify potential demographic predictors of food allergies. Methods. We performed a cross-Canada, random telephone survey. Criteria for food allergy were self-report of convincing symptoms and/or physician diagnosis of allergy. Multivariate logistic regressions were used to assess potential determinants. Results. Of 10,596 households surveyed in 2008/2009, 3666 responded, representing 9667 individuals. Peanut, tree nut, and sesame allergy were more common in children (odds ratio (OR) 2.24 (95% CI, 1.40, 3.59), 1.73 (95% CI, 1.11, 2.68), and 5.63 (95% CI, 1.39, 22.87), resp.) while fish and shellfish allergy were less common in children (OR 0.17 (95% CI, 0.04, 0.72) and 0.29 (95% CI, 0.14, 0.61)). Tree nut and shellfish allergy were less common in males (OR 0.55 (95% CI, 0.36, 0.83) and 0.63 (95% CI, 0.43, 0.91)). Shellfish allergy was more common in urban settings (OR 1.55 (95% CI, 1.04, 2.31)). There was a trend for most food allergies to be more prevalent in the more educated (tree nut OR 1.90 (95% CI, 1.18, 3.04)) and less prevalent in immigrants (shellfish OR 0.49 (95% CI, 0.26, 0.95)), but wide CIs preclude definitive conclusions for most foods. Conclusions. Our results reveal that in addition to age and sex, place of residence, socioeconomic status, and birth place may influence the development of food allergy.