Last Updated: 2006-03-31 9:30:18 -0400 (Reuters Health)
A Reuters release from BERLIN (Reuters) - Explains that allergies such as hay fever are reaching epidemic proportions in Europe and a failure to treat them properly is creating a mounting bill for society and the healthcare system, experts said on Friday.
According to this report, around one third of the European population has some kind of allergy, while one in two children in Britain will have allergies by 2015, costing millions of euros in medical bills, lost work days and even impaired concentration in school pupils.
Experts say various factors such as air pollution, animal fur and dust mites could act as triggers for allergies but that the levels of allergic reaction vary from country to country.
"There is an epidemic of allergic disease in Europe and elsewhere in the world," Peter Burney, vice president of research at the Global Allergy and Asthma European Network (GALEN), told reporters on Friday.
The report goes on-allergies were most prevalent in Britain and Ireland, as well as other English speaking countries like Canada, Australia and the United States, Burney said, adding they were also becoming more widespread in new European Union member states.
"It's not a problem which is going to go away soon," he added, noting that as allergy sufferers get older the complications resulting from their condition tend to get worse.
"We have data showing that up to the age of 55, people do not lose their allergies, but that the complications are greater," he said. "This is a serious problem."
"We have valid data that one third of European Union people have allergies but only 10 percent of these millions of people are treated well," Zuberbier said, adding that around 40 percent of children with untreated hay fever will develop asthma.
Dramatic increase in cases of childhood allergies
Last Update: Monday, June 18, 2007. 12:07pm AEST
By Ross Solly and Nicholas Kittel
Professor Raymond Mullins is a medical specialist who has discovered some alarming statistics about childhood allergies.
Prof. Mullins has reported a 5-fold increase in the number of childhood allergies he has treated in the past decade.
"12 to 13 years ago I might see one kid with a food allergy per month, now it's 3 per week so something is going on," he said.
And the allergic reactions he has reported have been quite severe.
"We're talking about kids who 10 to 15 minutes after their first taste of yoghurt or egg or peanut might get facial swelling, a rash, start to cry, sometimes vomit and in the more serious cases, which is anaphylaxis, difficulty breathing or a drop in blood pressure.
Prof. Mullins says that the data that he has collected illustrates a growing national and international trend.
"We've got evidence of local data for increased service demand... we've got national hospital data showing increased admissions to hospital... and we've got a couple of good studies from the UK and the United States showing a two to 3-fold increase in peanut allergy... so this is an international phenomena, but it's a phenomena of the developing world.
But medical professionals are unsure as to why these childhood allergies are on the rise.
"We're long on theories and short on answers and the trouble is that a lot of theories just don't hold water.
However, one thing seems to be certain.
"It is something to do with westernised lifestyle, you don't really get this in developing countries... allergy seems to be the price we pay for a better lifestyle if you like.
Prof. Mullins is hoping that doctors, specialists and allied health professionals will be able to pool their resources to create an effective study to understand and treat this increase in the instance of childhood allergies.
"At the moment we don't know why it's happening, we've got theories but no answers, and we don't know how to prevent it and we can't make it go away... What we are really needing to do is pour our resources into a well planned, well conducted epidemiological studies to identify risk factors so that we can intervene and try to prevent it.
Prof. Mullins hopes that public education about the dangers of allergies will help people understand the affliction and prevent occurrences of exposure.
"The major thing is education, identifying, knowing what the triggers are and knowing what are the traps for young players in terms of accidental exposure."
See discussions at Academics Review:
Section 3—Allergy Assessment Works As Planned