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Title: Prevalence of Food Allergy among Schoolchildren in Lebanon
Authors: Sakakini, Jana
Irani, Carla
Bikai, Rana El 
Sahyoun, Gretta
Hallit, Souheil
Salameh, Pascale
Dano, Dominique
Affiliations: Faculty of Health Sciences 
Keywords: Food allergy
Issue Date: 2022-01-11
Part of: International Archives of Allergy and Immunology
Volume: 183
Issue: 6
Start page: 611
End page: 616
Introduction: Food allergy (FA) is a global health problem with an ongoing rise in prevalence, especially in developed countries. It has been reported to be most prevalent in children, although cases in adults have been increasing as well. FA may lead to life-threatening clinical manifestations. Data in Lebanon and the Middle East are limited. To our knowledge, few studies tackled its prevalence in children in this region.

Aim: This study aims at determining self-reported prevalence of FA in schoolchildren (ages 3-17 years) in Lebanon and describes its characteristics.

Method: Throughout this cross-sectional study, 5 schools from 3 different governorates in Lebanon (Beirut, Mt. Lebanon, and Beqaa) were contacted to participate and 5,312 questionnaires were sent out to be completed by the parents and sent back to the school during May 2019.

Results: 2,610 questionnaires were collected (49.13%). A hundred and forty-eight (6%) children reported to have FA, 58% were males. 80% of them were breastfed, 51% were diagnosed between the ages of 2 and 14 years. Common allergens included cow's milk and milk products (22.46%), fruits and vegetables (16.58%), eggs (8.02%), and nuts (5.88%). Allergic symptoms included skin reactions (45.08%), gastrointestinal (GI) symptoms (29.53%), respiratory symptoms (14.51%), and systemic symptoms (10.88%). 82% of the population with FA has sought professional advice, out of which 54% were confirmed by a physician. Common methods of diagnosis were IgE test (35.71%), food elimination (27.92%), and skin prick test (18.83%). χ2 analysis has shown that a higher percentage of children with FA had skin reactions (58.8%, p = 0.033) and GI symptoms (30.41%, p = 0.047). A higher percentage of children with allergies were breastfed. No relation between the presence of FA and delivery mode was observed.

Conclusion: This study has shown that the self-reported prevalence of FA among Lebanese schoolchildren is 6%, and it was correlated with skin and GI symptoms. The most common allergen was cow's milk. A higher proportion of children with FA were breastfed. No association between the mode of delivery and FA was found. Larger studies are needed to confirm the above findings.
ISSN: 10182438
DOI: 10.1159/000521147
Open URL: Link to full text
Type: Journal Article
Appears in Collections:Department of Public Health

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