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Environment & Climate Change

Study finds food allergies are more common in inner-city children

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A new study finds inner-city kids might have a higher than normal risk of developing food allergies.

Researchers studied more than 500 kids from birth through age 5, in Boston, Baltimore, New York City, and St. Louis.

Dr. Robert Wood is a professor of pediatrics at Johns Hopkins Children’s Center in Baltimore. He says normal food allergy rates are around 5-6%. But that rate went up when they looked at kids in the inner city.

“And what we found was an unexpectedly high rate of food allergy approaching about 10% through the first five years of life," said Wood.

He says researchers have known for a while that asthma and other kinds of allergies are more common for kids growing up in inner cities.

“So it’s not terribly surprising that the same factors that might promote them to develop asthma or environmental allergies might also promote food allergy, although we don’t still have a clear idea exactly what those factors are,” Wood said.

He says that in general, food allergies in children have been increasing over the last 20 years.