Current Allergy and Asthma Reports

, Volume 12, Issue 4, pp 346–372 | Cite as

Food Allergy: Temporal Trends and Determinants

  • Moshe Ben-ShoshanEmail author
  • Elizabeth Turnbull
  • Ann Clarke


This review summarizes studies discussing temporal trends in the prevalence of food allergy as well as potential factors associated with the development of food allergy. In addition, we will address the potential hypotheses accounting for the apparent increase in food allergy prevalence. Studies suggest increased prevalence of food allergy. However, relatively little is known about its pathogenesis. This review aims to assess temporal trends in the prevalence of food allergy and discuss potential genetic, environmental, and demographic determinants. The search strategy examined the medical literature database MEDLINE (using PubMed) for the time period of January 1, 2002 to January 31, 2012. In recent decades, the prevalence of food allergy in general has increased by 0.60 % [95 % confidence interval (CI), 0.59 %–0.61 %] and the prevalence of peanut allergy by 0.027 % (95 % CI, 0.026 %–0.028 %), but it has now likely stabilized in developed countries. Genes, the environment, and demographic characteristics play a role in the pathogenesis of food allergy. Numerous environmental and demographic factors as well as gene-environment interactions may account for this increase in prevalence, but further studies are required to tease out their relative contribution.


Food allergy Temporal trends Determinants Prevalence Genetic factors Environmental factors Demographic factors Hygiene hypothesis 



Dr. Ben-Shoshan is the recepient of the AllerGen NCE Emerging Clinician–Scientist Research Fellowship Award.


No potential conflicts of interest relevant to this article were reported.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Moshe Ben-Shoshan
    • 1
    Email author
  • Elizabeth Turnbull
    • 2
  • Ann Clarke
    • 2
    • 3
  1. 1.Division of Pediatric Allergy and Clinical Immunology, Department of PediatricsMcGill University Health CentreMontrealCanada
  2. 2.Division of Clinical Epidemiology, Department of MedicineMcGill University Health CentreMontrealCanada
  3. 3.Division of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, Department of MedicineMcGill University Health CentreMontrealCanada

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