Nightly News   |  May 02, 2013

Dramatic rise in kids’ skin, food allergies

A new report from the Centers for Disease Control found one in 20 American kids have food allergies, a 50 percent increase from 1997 to 2011. NBC’s Anne Thompson reports.

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>>> when you think about it, in the space of one american generation, allergies have changed everything, down to the basics like what our kids can bring to school or eat at school. we are talking about food allergies mostly, but also skin allergies. while the cdc research confirms this spike, the cause is still largely a mystery. our report on this tonight from nbc's anne thompson .

>> reporter: she fears her son lawrence may be part of a puzzling trend. she suspects he has a food allergy .

>> he was throwing up, swelling around the face, around the neck. his lips were swelling. he was having labored breathing.

>> reporter: it's not just food. doctors are hearing more concerns from parents about skin allergies like eczema in children, all part of what the government says is a dramatic rise in allergies in america's kids. in today's report the centers for disease control finds 1 in 20 american kids have food allergies . a 50% increase from 1997 to 2011 . 1 in 12 have skin allergies, nearly 69% more.

>> i don't think we know the absolute one reason why it's increasing. if you have a genetic family history those patients are at higher risk for developing food allergies or eczema.

>> reporter: some doctors suggest kids are growing up in homes so clean from anti-bacterial cleaners. the study also confirms what parents already see, that allergies change as children grow up. skin allergies become less common but older kids develop respiratory allergies. 21% of children between the ages of 10 and 17 reporting problems like hay fever . allergy alert dog c.c. is reilly 's best friend. c.c. is trained to sniff out eggs and peanuts. reilly is severely allergic to both. we met her in 2008 .

>> if reilly ever comes into contact with peanuts, we have probably five to ten minutes to make sure she has medical attention or she will stop breathing and die.

>> reporter: today c.c. along with epipens and medicine help reilly live a normal life . her mom, sherry, can relax a little. trying to make sure allergies are less of an obstacle. anne thompson , nbc news, washington.