More Than Half Test Positive for Common Allergens
The results of a skin test foundthat 54% of the US population aged6 to 59 had a positive reaction to atleast 1 of 10 common allergens. Apositive result was determined bythe size of a welt on the skin, comparedwith a prick from a negativecontrol. Therefore, the positivegroup was more likely to have asthma,hay fever, or eczema. The findingswere based on the ThirdNational Health and Nutrition ExaminationSurvey that included skintests on 10,500 individuals between1988 and 1994.
The government study indicatedthat 25% of the population testedpositive for allergies to dust mites,perennial rye, ragweed, and cockroaches.Of the participants, only9% had a peanut allergy. The researchersfrom the National Instituteof Environmental Health Sciencesand the National Institute of Allergyand Infectious Diseases also comparedskin-test responses betweenthe current survey and similar testsconducted in 1976-1980. The comparisonshowed that prevalence ofsensitivity to the 6 allergens thatwere tested in both surveys was 2 to5.5 times higher in the later round.The first survey tested 8 allergens.(The findings were reported in theJournal of Allergy and ClinicalImmunology, August 2005.)