Methods: We used a stratified cluster sampling design and chosen from a random sample of 45 primary and 40 middle schools in South Korea between October and November 2010. Total 7,725 children aged 6-7 years and 13-14 years were involved. We acquired that the information of food allergy from the questionnaires and analyzed the mean value of continuous variable (Total Ig E and Eosinophil count) and the risk factors which were associated with food allergy using multivariate logistic regression.
Results: The prevalence of food allergy in this study was 13.4% and the mean age at the beginning of the first allergic symptoms was 58.4 ± 41.9 months (1-168). The most common food, cause of allergic symptoms, was egg (21%) and following order common cause for food allergies symptoms were fruits, shellfish, and milk in the sequence. The mean total Ig E level and eosinophil count was higher in food allergy group (362.1 ± 555.0 IU/mL, 4.1 ± 3.2%) than no food allergy group (241.6 ± 414.4, 3.5 ± 2.9; P < 0.001) The risk factors of food allergy in multivariate logistic regression were asthma history (OR, 1.465; 95% CI, 1.078-1.991), atopic dermatitis history (2.841; 2.334-3.458), father and mother food allergy history (1.764; 1.189-2.617 and 2.009;1.342-3.009), and breast milk feeding for more than 7 months (1.359; 1.110-1.663).
Conclusion: The prevalence of food allergy in Korean children was 13.4% and the risk factors of food allergy were the present of asthma history, atopic dermatitis, and parent food allergy and breast milk feeding for more than 7 months.