Monday, September 30, 2013

Food Allergies Cost U.S. Families $25 Billion Every Year

By Kelley Lindberg

We know kids are expensive. They start out expensive, they transition into being more expensive, and they end up being super-ridiculously, eye-wateringly expensive by the time we get them into college. According to a report by the USDA called “Expenditures on Children by Families, 2012,” the annual cost for raising a child ranges from $12,600 to $14,700.

But guess what? Kids are even MORE expensive if they have food allergies. Like 30% more expensive. That’s $4,184 more per year for each child you have that suffers from food allergies. So bump that total cost of raising your kid up to $16,784 - $18,884 per kid, per year. (That settles it. The next time I have to argue with my son over doing his homework, I’m trading him in for a new car.)

With food allergies affecting about 8% of children (about 1 in 13), the mind-blowing total for what food allergies cost U.S. families each year is just shy of $25 billion per year. That’s the estimate from a national study published this month (“The Economic Impact of Childhood Food Allergy in the United States,” JAMA Pediatrics, Sept. 16, 2013). Ruchi Gupta, MD, MPH, a luminary in the field of food allergy for many years, headed up the study that quantified the economic impact associated with food allergies in children. Costs measured in the study included direct medical costs (like doctor visits, ER visits, and hospitalizations), as well as out-of-pocket expenses like the costs of special foods, and the loss of jobs or work hours and other lost income opportunities because of having to care for a child with food allergies.

The point of the study wasn’t just to depress us, I know. (We’re good at that all by ourselves.) The point was to make another argument in favor of increasing the funding for and priority of research, education, awareness, and advocacy for families with food allergies. Food allergies continue to grow at an alarming rate every year, and until we establish a reliable cure, their economic impact will continue to grow right along with them.

For more details about the study, see “New Study Finds Food Allergies Cost Billions of Dollars Each Year” on FARE’s website.


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