Methods: This is a retrospective chart review of all children who underwent skin prick testing for food allergy from January 2004 until January 2014 who attended the clinic at St George Hospital University Medical Center in Beirut, Lebanon. Charts were screened for gender, age at presentation and clinical presentation.
Results: Food allergy was present in 49.7% of children. The mean age at first presentation was 4 years (range 1 month-16 years). 4 boys for every 3 girls were sensitized to a food. The most common food allergies were milk (34%) and Egg (32%) followed by sesame (20%), soy, walnut and peanut at 18% each. Nine percent of the food allergic children had a documented episode of anaphylaxis. The most common triggers were milk (50%), egg (37%) and sesame (37%). The most common presentation was dermatological in nature (atopic dermatitis in 40%, urticaria in 25%). Associated upper respiratory symptoms were present in 21.5% of the cases and lower respiratory symptoms in 16%. The percentage of children with a positive food allergy test has increased 2.5 times during the second half (35.3%) as compared to the first half (14.4%) of the 10 year period.
Conclusions: Food allergy seems to be a significant pediatric health issue in Lebanese children. The most commonly detected food allergens in order of prevalence were milk, egg and sesame. Larger epidemiological studies are needed to better assess the burden of food allergy in what seems to be a rising health problem.