Research shows that kids from highly populated areas are more prone to food allergies than their counterparts in rural locations. City kids are also more prone to food allergies than kids in the suburbs. Studies have shown that there is a greater incidence of food allergies in areas with higher population densities. These studies confirm the prevailing belief that environmental factors play a very important role in the development of food allergies in children.
Children who grow up in busy urban areas have double the risk for having peanut or shellfish allergies than kids in rural areas of the country. The allergies could be caused by children’s exposure to environmental pollutants at a very young age. On the other hand, there is a strong theory that children who grow up in rural areas develop better immune systems because of their exposure to bacteria that are prevalent in those areas.
Studies have shown that about 10 percent of children born in highly urbanized cities have a food allergy, as compared to roughly 6 percent of kids born in more sparsely populated areas.
A team of researchers led by Ruchi Gupta from the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine conducted the study responsible for many of the findings discussed above. The study results bolstered the theory that environmental factors are driving up food allergies in America. The team found similar results when it came to asthma prevalence. However, they have not pinpointed what aspect of the environment triggers the allergies or asthma. Researchers believe that there is a need for a better understanding of environmental factors to determine appropriate prevention efforts.
The study involved more than 38,000 children from a wide variety of backgrounds. About 40 percent of children with food allergies had experienced a life-threatening reaction to food. The severity of reaction stayed consistent, regardless of where the kids lived.
The study found out that only 1.3 percent of children who grow up in rural communities have peanut allergies, compared to 2.8 percent of children from urban areas. Less than 1 percent of rural children reported shellfish allergies in contrast to 2.4 percent of urban children.
The ongoing research on food allergies has been providing important information on how to properly address the worsening public health issue. It is now believed that an average of two children per school classroom suffers from food allergy in America.