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DOI: 10.1186/s13223-020-0415-5; PMCID: PMC7057521


Background: Food allergy is a growing global health concern, with limited studies conducted in developing countries. High-risk behavior regarding allergies is common among young adults, making them prone to severe allergic reactions. This study aimed to estimate the prevalence of food allergies among Imam Abdulrahman Bin Faisal University (IAU) students and to determine the rate of high-risk behaviors in this group.

Methods: An online survey was conducted among IAU students enrolled between the academic years of 2008 and 2018. The survey addressed food allergies with respect to age of onset, allergy testing, self-injectable epinephrine (SIE) prescription, associated allergic conditions, and attitude and behavior of university students regarding food avoidance and epinephrine use.

Results: In total, 5497 completed surveys were analyzed; 526 participants were clinically diagnosed with allergies to at least one food item. A SIE device was prescribed for only 129 (24.5%) of the diagnosed individuals, of which only 4.7% carried the device at all times. Thirty-nine individuals (30.2%) reported that they and their family members know the proper epinephrine device technique. Strict avoidance of food allergens was reported by 30.2% of the individuals. Associated allergic conditions were observed in 69.3% of the clinically diagnosed individuals.

Conclusion: Food allergies are prevalent among IAU students, with under-prescription of SIE devices. A high rate of high-risk behaviors with respect to food avoidance and carrying SIE was noted. Interventional strategies are needed to mitigate the risk of severe reactions among these university students.

Journal Title

Allergy Asthma Clin Immunol



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Food allergy; High-risk behavior; Saudi Arabia; University students


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