Why Food Allergies Are More Common Among City Kids

You’d think raising your children in the city would be the best way to ensure they’ve got fast access to quality education, healthcare and food. A new study comes to prove the opposite. Researchers found that food allergies are more common among city kids than those living in rural areas.

Over the past few years it has become obvious that food allergies have surged as one of the most urgent public health concern. Data shows that 15 million people suffer from food allergies, out of which 9 million are adults alone. The rest of 6 million stands for children with boys being more prone to develop a food allergy than a girl.

The study at hand tried to see if there is any connection between food allergies and geography in children. Researchers with the Northwestern University looked at 38,500 children younger than 18 across the United States. Dr. Ruchi Gupta, lead author of the study, explained that for the first time there is evidence “that population density and environment have an impact” on the food allergy risk in children.

The findings showed that on the overall, food allergies are more common among city kids than those living in rural areas. In fact, when it comes to peanut and shellfish allergies, city kids face a double risk than those living in rural communities. Moreover, in city, about 9.8 percent of children are struggling with food allergies, as opposed to only 6.2 percent in rural areas.

By mapping children’s food allergies by ZIP code, researchers were able to identify the states with the biggest prevalence of food allergies. Nevada, Florida and Georgia are on top of the list, with Alaska, New Jersey and Delaware coming next. Maryland and the District of Columbia are also on the list.

Jennifer Jobrack, director of the Food Allergy Initiative for the Midwest, told the Chicago Tribune that “this is indeed a real public health issue that affects families and decision-making every day”. Her son has a food allergy to nuts and Jobrack explains “it’s not just about where you eat out…but your interactions with camps, schools, even bus drivers. You always have to be vigilant on behalf of your child”.

Scientists weren’t able to identify yet exactly what are the factors in an environment that makes children more prone to food allergies.

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