A new study at the Johns Hopkins Children’s Center in Baltimore, MD, has shown that inner city children are at a higher risk for food allergies.
The results confirm findings in previous studies, which show that children living in urban environments are more prone to asthma and environmental allergies. A recent University of Colorado Boulder study also suggested that when children have reduced exposure to rural micro9bes, the risk of asthma and allergies increase.
Approximately , 3% of adults and 6% of young children in the US have at least one food allergy according to the National Institutes of Health. Dr. Robert Wood, senior investigator on the latest study from Johns Hopkins, notes that child food allergies have been rising over the last 20 years.
Their research confirms this increase, but the team says it also identifies a subgroup of children who may have an allergy risk higher than the average.
They found that 1 in 10 children in Baltimore, MD, Boston, MA, New York, NY, and St. Louis, MO, have a food allergy, but they note that the actual number could be even higher because the study only counted the three most common allergies.
By comparison, according to Food Allergy Research & Education (FARE), the average for children’s food allergies across the US is 1 in 13.
“Our findings are a wake-up call,” says Dr. Wood, “signaling an urgent need to unravel the causes, contributors and mechanisms that drive the high prevalence of food allergies among an already vulnerable group known for its high risk of asthma and environmental allergies.”
Over half of the children were sensitive to the allergens
To conduct their study, the researchers followed 516 inner-city children in the four major cities listed above from when they were born through 5 years of age. During each year, the team measured each child’s exposure to allergens in the household and tracked their diets and health histories.