Children living in urban centers have a much higher prevalence of food allergies than those living in rural areas, according to a new study, which is the first to map children's food allergies by geographical location in the United States. In particular, kids in big cities are more than twice as likely to have peanut and shellfish allergies compared to rural communities.
The study will be published in the July issue of Clinical Pediatrics.
"We have found for the first time that higher population density corresponds with a greater likelihood of food allergies in children," said lead author Ruchi Gupta, M.D., an assistant professor of pediatrics at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine and a physician at the Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children's Hospital of Chicago (formerly Children's Memorial). "This shows that environment has an impact on developing food allergies. Similar trends have been seen for related conditions like asthma. The big question is – what in the environment is triggering them? A better understanding of environmental factors will help us with prevention efforts."
Gupta, also a researcher at the Institute for Healthcare Studies at the Feinberg School, said some of her future research will focus on trying to identify the environmental causes.The study included 38,465 children, 18 years and under, who comprised a representative sample of U.S. households. Their food allergies were mapped by ZIP code. Here are the key findings of the study:
In urban centers, 9.8 percent of children have food allergies, compared to 6.2 percent in rural communities, almost a 3.5 percent difference.
Peanut allergies are twice as prevalent in urban centers as in rural communities, with 2.8 percent of children having the allergy in urban centers compared to 1.3 percent in rural communities. Shellfish allergies are more than double the prevalence in urban versus rural areas; 2.4 percent of children have shellfish allergies in urban centers compared to 0.8 percent in rural communities.
Food allergies are equally severe regardless of where a child lives, the study found. Nearly 40 percent of food-allergic children in the study had already experienced a severe, life-threatening reaction to food.
The states with the highest overall prevalence of food allergies are Nevada, Florida, Georgia, Alaska, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland and the District of Columbia.
The study controlled for household income, race, ethnicity, gender and age. It tracked food allergy prevalence in urban centers, metropolitan cities, urban outskirts, suburban areas, small towns and rural areas.
Food allergy is a serious and growing health problem. An estimated 5.9 million children under age 18, or one out of every 13 children, now have a potentially life-threatening food allergy, according to 2011 research by Gupta. A severe allergic reaction that can lead to death includes a drop in blood pressure, trouble breathing and swelling of the throat. A food-allergic reaction sends an American to the emergency room every three minutes, according to a March 2011 study published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology.
Past research has shown an increased prevalence of asthma, eczema, allergic rhinitis and conjunctivitis in urban areas versus rural ones. One hypothesis is that exposure early in life to certain bacteria associated with rural living may protect against hereditary hypersensitivity to certain allergens. Or, many pollutants encountered in urban areas may trigger the development of these allergies.
The Food Allergy Initiative (FAI), a nonprofit founded in 1998 by concerned parents and grandparents and the largest private funder of food allergy research in the world, provided financial support for this study.
"Dr. Gupta's ongoing research on food allergy prevalence among children in the U.S. is providing critical information to help us address the growing public health issue of food allergies," said Mary Jane Marchisotto, executive director of the Food Allergy Initiative. "We are committed to finding a cure for food allergies and this study provides additional insight about why certain people have food allergies and others do not."
Other Northwestern authors include: Jane L. Holl, M.D., Elizabeth E. Springston and Jacqueline Pongracic, M.D.
Marla Paul | EurekAlert!
Collagen nanofibrils in mammalian tissues get stronger with exercise
14.12.2018 | University of Illinois College of Engineering
New discoveries predict ability to forecast dementia from single molecule
12.12.2018 | UT Southwestern Medical Center
The more objects we make "smart," from watches to entire buildings, the greater the need for these devices to store and retrieve massive amounts of data quickly without consuming too much power.
Millions of new memory cells could be part of a computer chip and provide that speed and energy savings, thanks to the discovery of a previously unobserved...
What if, instead of turning up the thermostat, you could warm up with high-tech, flexible patches sewn into your clothes - while significantly reducing your...
A widely used diabetes medication combined with an antihypertensive drug specifically inhibits tumor growth – this was discovered by researchers from the University of Basel’s Biozentrum two years ago. In a follow-up study, recently published in “Cell Reports”, the scientists report that this drug cocktail induces cancer cell death by switching off their energy supply.
The widely used anti-diabetes drug metformin not only reduces blood sugar but also has an anti-cancer effect. However, the metformin dose commonly used in the...
A research team from the University of Zurich has developed a new drone that can retract its propeller arms in flight and make itself small to fit through narrow gaps and holes. This is particularly useful when searching for victims of natural disasters.
Inspecting a damaged building after an earthquake or during a fire is exactly the kind of job that human rescuers would like drones to do for them. A flying...
Over the last decade, there has been much excitement about the discovery, recognised by the Nobel Prize in Physics only two years ago, that there are two types...
12.12.2018 | Event News
10.12.2018 | Event News
06.12.2018 | Event News
14.12.2018 | Power and Electrical Engineering
14.12.2018 | Physics and Astronomy
14.12.2018 | Physics and Astronomy