Food Allergies More Common in City Youngsters Than in Country Kids

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Food Allergies More Common in City Youngsters Than in Country Kids

Food allergies areِ more common among kids living inِ cities thanِ among children inِ less populated areas, a newِ study finds.
Researchers foundِ that theِ share ofِ children withِ anyِ type ofِ food allergy wasِ 9.8 percent inِ cities, 7.2 percent inِ suburban areas, andِ 6.2 percent inِ rural areas.
Previous studies foundِ that city dwellers haveِ higher rates ofِ other types ofِ allergies, suchِ asِ asthma, eczema andِ hay fever.

Food allergies by region

Gupta andِ her colleagues surveyed moreِ than 38,000 parents whoِ hadِ atِ least oneِ child noِ older thanِ 18.
The online survey asked whetherِ theirِ child suffered fromِ a food allergy and, ifِ so, whenِ itِ asِ diagnosed andِ how severe itِ was.
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Kids’ food allergies were then mapped by ZIP code.

The researchers looked atِ individual foods andِ found theِ allergy rates wereِ consistently higher among city children.
For instance, close toِ 3 percent ofِ children inِ cities hadِ a peanut allergy, compared withِ 1.3 percent inِ rural areas.
Generally, kids living inِ the southern andِ middle latitudes wereِ moreِ likelyِ to haveِ a food allergy thanِ those living fartherِ north – thoughِ notِ always, theِ researchers said.

Possible causes

Researchers aren’t sureِ why certainِ types ofِ allergies areِ more common inِ cities.
One idea, knownِ asِ the hygiene hypothesis, isِ that early exposure toِ theِ bacteria foundِ in rural areas protects againstِ allergies, theِ researchers said.
Researchers alsoِ have wondered whetherِ changesِ in theِ food supply, suchِ asِ anِ increase inِ processed foods orِ a move awayِ from locally grown foods, haveِ played a role inِ the rise inِ food allergies inِ recent decades, Gupta said.