Are allergies more common in the US?

When it comes to food allergies, you wouldn’t be alone in assuming that children all over the world deal with food allergies. You would be correct: Neocate is available in many countries around the world for that very reason. However, we recently came across an article in a journal, JAMA Pediatrics, that looked at how likely children in the United States are to have allergies compared to children from other countries. The article is Prevalence of Allergic Disease in Foreign-Born American Children. No surprise: there are differences between countries, and they might not be what you’d expect!

What the researchers looked at

Dr. Jonathan Silverberg, the lead author, and his colleagues at St. Luke’s-Roosevelt Hospital Center in New York City wanted to look at links between where children were born and whether this was linked to allergies. The specifically compared children born in the US to children born in other countries. The symptoms they tracked were asthma, eczema, hay fever and food allergies. The researchers looked at surveys completed by over 91,000 families.

What the researchers found 

Children born outside of the US were much less likely to experience any of the allergy symptoms that the researchers looked at: asthma, eczema, hay fever and food allergies. This held up when the researchers looked at age, gender, race/ethnicity, income, and geography. The researchers also found a few things that were a bit more interesting. Children born outside the US were more likely to have allergies if their parents were born in the US versus outside the US. We didn’t see that coming! Finally, children who moved to the US from another country were more likely to develop allergic disorders the longer they lived in the US! We’d love to know if children who are born in the US and move away see a decrease in allergic disorders…

What do you think of the results of this new research – did they surprise you?                                        

Rob McCandlish, RDN

Published: 07/25/2013
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