Prevalence of food sensitization and probable food allergy among adults in India: the EuroPrevall INCO study

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Abstract

Background:

Data are lacking regarding the prevalence of food sensitization and probable food allergy among general population in India. We report the prevalence of sensitization and probable food allergy to 24 common foods among adults from general population in Karnataka, South India.

Methodology:

The study was conducted in two stages: a screening study and a case–control study. A total of 11 791 adults in age group 20–54 were randomly sampled from general population in South India and answered a screening questionnaire. A total of 588 subjects (236 cases and 352 controls) participated in the case–control study involving a detailed questionnaire and specific IgE estimation for 24 common foods.

Results:

A high level of sensitization (26.5%) was observed for most of the foods in the general population, higher than that observed among adults in Europe, except for those foods that cross-react with birch pollen. Most of the sensitization was observed in subjects who had total IgE above the median IgE level. A high level of cross-reactivity was observed among different pollens and foods and among foods. The prevalence of probable food allergy (self-reports of adverse symptoms after the consumption of food and specific IgE to the same food) was 1.2%, which was mainly accounted for cow's milk (0.5%) and apple (0.5%).

Conclusion:

Very high levels of sensitization were observed for most foods, including those not commonly consumed in the general population. For the levels of sensitization, the prevalence of probable food allergy was low. This disassociation needs to be further explored in future studies.

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