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Allergy Rates Same Across US

By Nick Tate   |   Tuesday, 04 Mar 2014 04:34 PM

Federal scientists have found that allergy rates are virtually the same across different regions of the United States, except in children 5 years and younger.
Medical Xpress reports the findings by the National Institutes of Health are the result of the most comprehensive, nationwide study ever to examine the prevalence of allergies from early childhood to old age. They also challenge some closely held notions many doctors and Americans have about regional allergy rates.
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"Before this study, if you would have asked 10 allergy specialists if allergy prevalence varied depending on where people live, all 10 of them would have said yes, because allergen exposures tend to be more common in certain regions of the U.S.," said Darryl Zeldin, M.D., scientific director of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS), part of NIH.
"This study suggests that people prone to developing allergies are going to develop an allergy to whatever is in their environment. It's what people become allergic to that differs."
The research, published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, and is based on analyses of blood samples from approximately 10,000 Americans who participated in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) 2005-2006.
Although the study found that the overall prevalence of allergies did not differ between regions, researchers discovered that children aged 1-5 in the southern U.S. had a higher prevalence of allergies than their peers living in other U.S. regions.
These southern states included Texas, Oklahoma, Louisiana, Arkansas, Tennessee, Kentucky, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, West Virginia, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Florida.
"The higher allergy prevalence among the youngest children in southern states seemed to be attributable to dust mites and cockroaches," explained Paivi Salo, an epidemiologist in Zeldin's research group. "As children get older, both indoor and outdoor allergies become more common, and the difference in the overall prevalence of allergies fades away."
The team also uncovered regional differences in types of allergies Americans suffer. Sensitization to indoor allergens was more prevalent in the South, sensitivity to outdoor allergens was more common in the West, and food allergies among those 6 years and older were also highest in the South.

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