Anecdotal evidence of food allergies is everywhere, but exactly how common are these allergies and intolerances? In a new study, investigators from BWH analyzed data from medical records of more than 2.7 million patients across Partners HealthCare, identifying more than 97,000 with at least one documented food allergy or intolerance. Their findings were recently published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology.

“Recent reports suggest that food allergies are on the rise, with more food-allergy related hospitalizations in the U.S. over the last decade. However, many studies have been based on telephone surveys or have focused on a specific food allergen or allergen group,” said Li Zhou, MD, PhD, of the Division of General Medicine Primary Care. “We recognized that the electronic health record system could offer a treasure trove of information about allergies to better understand which populations may be most affected and just how common food allergies and intolerances are in the U.S.”

The team looked at a variety of food allergens, finding that almost 13,000 patients (3.6 percent) had a reported allergy or intolerance to peanuts. Within that group, more than 7,000 (56.5 percent) had experienced hives, anaphylaxis or other reactions.