Urban kids more likely to develop food allergies

Urban kids more likely to develop food allergies

Children living in cities tend to have more food allergies than their rural counterparts, says a new study.

“We have found for the first time that higher population density corresponds with a greater likelihood of food allergies in children,” said Ruchi Gupta, assistant professor of paediatrics at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, who led the study.

“This shows that environment has an impact on developing food allergies. The big question is – what in the environment is triggering them? A better understanding of environmental factors will help us with prevention efforts,” said Gupta, the journal Clinical Paediatrics reports.

The study included 38,465 children, 18 years and under, who comprised a representative sample of US households. Their food allergies were mapped by ZIP code, according to a Feinberg statement.

Here are the key findings of the study:

* In urban centres, 9.8 percent of children have food allergies, compared to 6.2 percent in rural communities, almost a 3.5 percent difference.

* Food allergies are equally severe regardless of where a child lives. Nearly 40 percent of food-allergic children in the study had already experienced a severe, life-threatening reaction to food.

A food-allergic reaction sends an American to the emergency room every three minutes, according to a March 2011 study reported by the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology.

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