City Kids: Sure You're Cooler, but You Have More Food Allergies

Staff Writer
A new study found that children who grew up in urban environments tended to have more food allergies

Photo Sasabune Omakase Modified: Flickr/erin/CC 4.0

Kids who grow up in the city may get an automatic ticket to badassery (if they know how to use it, that is), but apparently urban kids get more allergies. Take that, modernity!

A study published in Clinical Pediatrics found that children living in urban areas tended to be twice as likely to have allergies to peanuts or shellfish, when compared to children living in rural areas.

"This shows that environment has an impact on developing food allergies. Similar trends have been seen for related conditions like asthma," lead author Ruchi Gupta said. "The big question is — what in the environment is triggering them? A better understanding of environmental factors will help us with prevention efforts."

Researchers examined 38,465 children, 18 years old or younger, mapping out their food allergies by ZIP code. They found that in urban areas, 9.8 percent of subjects had food allergies, whereas in rural areas only 6.2 percent had allergies.

Peanut allergies were also twice as common in urban areas when compared to the rural areas. Shellfish allergies had a greater difference; 2.4 percent of urban children reported shellfish allergies compared to 0.8 percent of rural children.

Asthma, eczema, allergic rhinitis, and conjunctivitis are also more prevalent in urban areas. Researchers suggest that early exposure to specific bacteria associated with rural living help protect against sensitivity to allergens. Furthermore, urban-specific pollutants may also trigger allergy development.

Also interesting? States with the highest amount of food allergies were Nevada, Florida, Georgia, Alaska, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, and the District of Columbia. So there may be perks to living in Kansas, but other than Las Vegas, Nevada might be out of the question. Check out the map below to see which states have the highest number of allergy cases.