Food allergies more common in the city

Dr Ruchi Gupta and colleagues at the Feinberg School of Medicine at Northwestern University have carried out the first ever study to map food allergy by geographical location. The study has found that children in the cities are more than twice as likely to have a peanut and shellfish allergy as those living in rural areas.

Lead author Ruchi Gupta says that similar trends have been found in asthma, a condition related to food allergy, and the task now is to find out what in the environment is triggering these conditions.

This study included nearly 40,000 children aged 18 and under, comprising a representative sample of households in the United States. They found that nearly 10% of city children have allergies, compared with just over 6% of rural children. 2.8% of city children have peanut allergy compared with 1.3% of rural children. The severity of these allergies is equal regardless of where the children live: almost 40% had already experienced a life threatening reaction to food.

The study took into account income, race, ethnicity, gender and age.

Source: Northwestern University

First published in June 2012


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