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Clinical and Translational Allergy

Open Access

PD16 - Prevalence of childhood food allergy in Canada: a focus on under-represented populations

  • Lianne Soller1,
  • Moshe Ben-Shoshan1,
  • Megan Knoll1,
  • Daniel Harrington2,
  • Joseph Fragapane1,
  • Lawrence Joseph1,
  • Yvan St Pierre1,
  • Sebastien La Vieille3,
  • Kathi Wilson2,
  • Susan Elliott4 and
  • Ann Clarke1
Clinical and Translational Allergy20144(Suppl 1):P16

Published: 28 February 2014


Food AllergyCensus DataPostal CodeTelephone SurveyAboriginal People


Studies suggest individuals of low socioeconomic status (SES), immigrants, and Aboriginal peoples, may have fewer food allergies than the general population. However, given the difficulty in recruiting such populations using conventional survey methodologies, the prevalence of food allergy among these populations in Canada has not been estimated.


To compare the prevalence of food allergies among children from low-income, immigrant and Aboriginal populations to children from the general Canadian population.


Using 2006 Canadian Census data, postal codes with high proportions of low-income, immigrant, and Aboriginal populations were extracted and households randomly selected to participate in a telephone survey. Information on food allergies and demographic data was collected for all children (defined as below 18 years of age). Food allergy was defined according to self-report. Prevalence estimates were weighted using Census data to account for our targeted sampling.


Between September 2010 and September 2011, 12,747 households were contacted to complete the survey, of which 6,403 responded (50.2% response rate), representing 3,271 children. Among all children, the prevalence of allergy to any food was 7.49% (95% Confidence Interval (CI), 5.93, 9.05). Children born in Canada had considerably more food allergies than those born elsewhere [7.96% (95% CI, 6.24, 9.68) versus 3.26% (95% CI, 1.46, 5.07)]. The prevalence was higher for children residing in households above the low income cut-off (LICO) than below the LICO [7.81% (95% CI, 5.48, 10.14) versus 6.24% (95%CI, 4.12, 8.36)], and for children with versus without Aboriginal ancestry [7.62% (95% CI, 5.98, 9.26) versus 6.03% (95% CI, 1.30, 10.76)]; however, these differences were not statistically significant due to overlapping confidence intervals.


Our study found that immigrant children experience fewer food allergies than Canadian-born children. Although the data suggest a trend towards a lower prevalence of food allergy among low-income and Aboriginal children, wide confidence intervals preclude definitive conclusions.

Authors’ Affiliations

McGill University, Montreal, Canada
University of Toronto, Toronto, Canada
Health Canada, Ottawa, Canada
University of Waterloo, Waterloo, Canada


© Soller et al; licensee BioMed Central Ltd. 2014

This article is published under license to BioMed Central Ltd. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver ( applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated.