Allergies, Asthma and Wealth
Children in richer nations are more likely to have allergy-related asthma than their counterparts in poorer nations. Researchers arrived at that conclusion after studying more than 50,000 kids from 22 countries, ranging from wealthy European nations to poor nations in Africa.
Overall, children from rich countries who suffered from allergies were about four-times more likely to also have asthma as children without allergies. Kids with allergies who lived in poor countries, however, were only about 2.2-times more likely to have asthma as non-allergic kids. Statistics show the prevalence of asthma symptoms varies widely across countries. The authors of this study report some of that difference may be explained by the different form asthma may take depending on economic development. Specifically, allergic kids in poorer nations may be exposed to factors that protect them from developing asthma. Thus, asthma in those nations is more likely to be due to a non allergic cause.The researchers plan more studies to look at other risk factors for asthma, like diet, rhinitis and eczema, to see if they also differ between richer and poorer nations. (Source: American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine, 2007; 176:565-74 : European Academy of Allergology and Clinical Immunology : October 2007)