Child Food Allergies & Sensitivities Are On The Rise

Child Food Allergies and Sensitivities On The Rise


In April of 2014, Tummy Calm® partnered with Mothering to invite members of their community to take part in a survey about food allergies in children. We polled more than 500 willing parents over the course of a three month period, and the results we discovered were quite shocking.

All in all, nearly 90% of those polled stated that their child suffered from food sensitivities or food allergies, while just 4.5% stated that their child had no food sensitivities or food allergies at all. The remaining 6% were unsure or didn't know.

According to a 2013 study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, food allergies in children increased by 50% between 1997 to 2011. Another study conducted by the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology found that visits to the Children's Hospital of Boston for allergic reactions more than doubled from 2001 to 2006.

This raises the question "why are food allergies on the rise?"

Overall results of the food sensitivities survey conducted by Tummy Calm in the community

  • # of Parents Polled # of Parents Polled

  • Average Age of Child Average Age of Child

  • Most Allergic Food Most Allergic Food

This interactive infographic shares the results of a poll conducted on Mothering’s website that was used to determine what percentage of children have food sensitivities or allergies, what foods children are most allergic to, types of reactions, how long after eating those foods it takes for reaction to occur, and whether or not their child has been clinically diagnosed with food sensitivities/allergies.

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Ages of Children Polled

The numbers below represent the ages of the children in the poll with the average age being between 2 to 5 years.

4.9% - Less than 6 months Old

3.9% - 6-12 Months Old

12.3% - 12-24 Months Old

21.9% - 2-3 Years Old

21.9% - 4-5 Years Old

15.9% - 6-7 Years Old

12.1% - 8-10 Years Old

7% - 11 Years or Older

Ages of Children Polled

Foods Children Were Most Sensitive To

Peanut Allergy


26.7% of those polled reported that their children were allergic or sensitive to peanuts. Not to be confused with tree nuts, peanuts are part of the legume family.

Tree Nut Allergy

Tree Nuts

17.6% of those polled reported that their children were allergic or sensitive to tree nuts. Tree nuts consist of walnuts, almonds, hazelnuts, cashews, and pistachio's to name a few.

Soy Allergy


Soy allergy is one of the more common food allergies among babies and children. Our survey found that 30.4% of parents reported that their child suffered from a soy allergy or sensitivity. The good news is that the majority of children outgrow soy allergies by age 10.

Dairy Allergy


The most allergic food as reported by the moms and dads polled with over 67.8% reporting that their child had a sensitivity or allergy to dairy. The main culprit here is cow's milk which is the most common food allergy in infants and young children.

Fish / Shellfish Allergy

Fish / Shellfish

Coming in with our lowest reported percentage of food allergies or sensitivity is fish or shellfish at 5.3%. While the percentage is low, those who are allergic to shellfish typically have severe allergic reactions, and the allergy is usually lifelong.

Egg Allergy


The second most common food allergy in children, second to only a milk allergy, consuming eggs can cause allergic reactions that range from mild to severe. Egg allergy or sensitivity appeared in 24.2% of the children of the parents we polled.

Wheat Allergy

Gluten (Wheat)

The second highest reported food allergy according to our poll results is wheat, coming in at 51.6%.

Common Reactions From Foods

These are the reported reaction's to food's with the majority reporting irritability, mood, and behavioral changes as the most common reactions. Those polled were asked to select all that applied to their child.

51.1% - Eczema / Dry Skin

32.4% - Hives

24.9% - Rash

21% - Swelling of the mouth, eyes or face

42% - vomiting or diarrhea

43.2% - upset stomach

55.3% - irritability / mood / behavioral changes

Common Reactions From Foods

Average Time It Takes To See A Reaction After Consuming Foods

Reaction Times Reaction Times Reaction Times

As represented in the chart above the majority of parents reported that their child's reaction occurred two or more hours after the consumption of food. With food allergies there really is no guarantee a reaction will occur within a specific time frame as a person who has an allergy to peanuts may react after two hours the first time, but react after 15 minutes the second time. The reaction times also depend on how much of the food was consumed. Usually reactions that happen within the first hour or less are characteristic of hives or a rash, but can take longer even up to a few days depending on skin contact and food consumption.

How Child's Food Sensitivity Was Discovered

We asked the parents how they discovered that their child had a food sensitivity / allergy. The majority stated reactions that they have seen in their child.

51.1% - Reactions

32.4% - Doctor Suggested It

24.9% - Others in family have same or similar reaction

How Child's Food Sensitivity Was Discovered

Percentage of Children Tested For A Food Sensitivity / Allergy




Not Tested


Going To Get Tested

How Parents Are Managing Child's Food Sensitivities

When we asked the parents polled* how they're managing their child's food sensitivities the majority stated that they strictly avoid the foods that cause their child to have a reaction. If the percentages seem skewed its because we asked them to select all answers that applied to them.

*Parents were asked to select ALL answers that applied, which create a skew in the percentage total.

78.2% - Strict Food Avoidance for Child

31% - Strict Food Avoidance for Household

28.7% - If Breastfeeding, Restricted Maternal Diet

10.1% - Treat With Medications (OTC or Prescription)

12.6% - Treat With Homeopathy

How Parent's Are Managing Child's Food Sensitivities

Percent of Parents Polled Who Experience Food Sensitivities / Allergies Themselves

52.5 Percent


34 Percent


13 Percent


On Whether or Not Food Sensitivities Impacted Breastfeeding

For a lot of moms what they eat is directly tied to the reactions of their newborn baby so its important to be aware of food sensitivities in your baby. The common allergens are cow's milk, eggs, shellfish, wheat, nuts, and peanuts. Some of the signs moms notice are diaper rash, skin rashes, chronic runny nose, diarrhea and excessive fussiness. Roughly 20% of babies will experience colic in which strict food avoidance is recommended.

51.1% - Yes

32.4% - No

24.9% - Not Applicable

On Whether or Not Food Sensitivities Impacted Breastfeeding

Parents First Recourse To Treat Stomach Pain or Adverse Effects From Food Sensitivities In Their Child

Treat With Homeopathy

Treat With Homeopathy

16.2% of those polled reported that their first recourse to treat stomach pain or adverse effects is with homeopathy. This seems to be a growing trend among young children as more parents want to use natural products or organic products first before trying other treatments.

Treat With Over The Counter Medications

Treat With Over The Counter Medications

Coming in third at 5.4% of those polled is treating stomach pain or adverse affects with over the counter (OTC) medications. Often times these are less expensive methods than prescription drugs and can provide temporary relief of stomach pain and food sensitivities.

Treat With Prescription Drugs

Treat With Prescription Drugs

Prescription drugs, came in last in our polled question at 2.3%.

Strict Elimination Diet

Strict Elimination Diet

Coming in first at 67.8% of responses, parents stated that they would use a strict elimination diet to stop stomach pain or adverse effects from food sensitivities. Food avoidance is recommended as the first step in identifying why a child is having a reaction. For a quick guide on strict elimination diet's click here.