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City kids more likely to have food allergies than rural ones
Date:6/7/2012

CHICAGO --- 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 are
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Contact: Marla Paul
Marla-Paul@northwestern.edu
312-503-8928
Northwestern University
Source:Eurekalert

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