Oz allergy epidemic?
Oz allergy epidemic?

Melbourne researchers have been stunned to find Australia has the highest childhood food allergy rate in the world.

Experts now warn children are at risk as waiting lists for special care blow out.

Jett Vanschellen (pictured) was one of 5,000 one-year-olds tested as part of the Melbourne Murdoch Children's Research Institute study.

To his mother's surprise, the little boy reacted to eggs and peanuts.

"There were no allegies with my other two children," his mum, Kathy, said. "I didn't expect it in the least - it's a bit worrying."

But Kathy was not the only parent to discover her child had an intolerance to certain foods.

The study began because of a concern food allergies were over diagnosed. Parents were offered free skin tests for their children.

Those that reacted were then given the suspect food to eat.

The study confirmed that Australia is experiencing a food allergy epidemic.

Dr Katie Allen said: "We were astounded. We first predicted it could be as low as one per cent, perhaps five per cent, but we certainly didn't anticipate 10 per cent, and that's the highest rate ever recorded in the world."

Professor Allen likens it to the Asthma epidemic of the 1990's - cases are rising dramatically but no one knows why.

"Because it's not on the rise in developing countries we know that it's something to do with the modern lifestyle," Dr Allen explained. "What that is could be anyone's guess."

The rise in food allergies has placed extra demand on specialists, putting children in danger while they wait to be tested.

Dr Allen said: "I've had children turn up to see me who've been waiting for three years."

  • See the full report on 7NEWS bulletin tonight at 6pm.

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