TIME allergies

You Can’t Hide From Allergies

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Prevalence in U.S. doesn't vary across regions

Researchers have scoured the entire U.S. and found that there’s nowhere to run when it comes to allergies.

In the new study published in The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, 8,124 people, including 856 kids, underwent blood tests. The researchers scanned the participants’ blood for immunoglobulin E antibodies (IgEs), which can indicate an allergy to a specific substance. They then tested them for antibodies to a variety of different common allergens, like pets, peanuts, grass, ragweed, and shrimp.

The findings show that the prevalence of allergies do not vary across regions, but that 45% of people over age 6 and 36% of kids between ages 1 to 5, were allergic to at least one of the various allergens. There were also interesting variations in allergies according to demographics: certain allergies, like shrimp sensitivity, were linked to lower income groups, and non-Hispanic blacks had the greatest allergies to all allergens except for egg and Russian thistle. Outdoor allergies appeared to impact more people who lived in urban areas.

“The biggest surprise is that the level of sensitivities didn’t differ region to region,” lead author Dr. Darryl C. Zeldin, a scientific director at the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, told The New York Times. “This goes completely against what most people would have said.”

The findings provide insights for physicians into different characteristics of allergies and how they may cluster based on demographics.

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