'Surprising' Numbers Of Adults Are Developing Food Allergies, Study Says

You might feel that they're ruining your restaurant experience, but the number of people with food allergies is increasing by the day. Making it through childhood allergy-free doesn't mean you're clear for life. According to a recent study, 45 percent of adults with food allergies developed the intolerance after they got older.

As lead researcher Dr. Ruchi Gupta explained, "Food allergies are often seen as a condition that begins in childhood, so the idea that 45 percent of adults with food allergies develop them in adulthood is surprising." Once you make it past childhood still able to eat peanut butter, you tend to think you're set for life. But according to these results, that's not really the case.

The sample, consisting of 53,575 U.S. adults, not only showed that adults are far more susceptible to developing allergies than was previously thought, but that people everywhere are experiencing more allergies in general. Across the board, in children, adults, and persons of all ethnic backgrounds, allergies were revealed to be on the rise.

One of the worst offenders was shellfish, which exhibited allergy symptoms in 3.6 percent of the population — up from the previous 2 percent recorded in 2004.

Tree nut allergies are increasingly common, as well.

In perhaps the least expected result of the study, researchers discovered that ethnic minority populations were most likely to develop allergies.

"Our research also found that, among black, Asian, and Hispanic adults, the risk of developing a food allergy to certain foods is higher than for whites," explained study co-author Christopher Warren, "specifically for shellfish and peanuts." Shellfish and peanuts are also among the most common food allergies overall.