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Map uncovers environmental causes of allergies

UK: A postcode map of allergies has been produced for the first time in the UK. It aims to uncover environmental causes of severe reactions that affect one in three of the UK population. The findings were published in BioMed Central, journal of allergy and clinical immunology.

By examining almost 6,000 referrals from 672 general practitioners (GPs) in Devon and Cornwall over 11 years, as well as consultants’ letters, population data and morbidity statistics, researchers have been able to trace how allergy hotspots develop over time. The highest rates of allergy were found in children aged five to nine. The research suggests more than 25,000 people in England have been diagnosed with a peanut allergy at some point, a lower figure than previous estimates.

“Allergies are on the increase in the UK, but until now, there has been little research into how they differ according to geographical area,” said Ray Jones, from the faculty of health at the University of Plymouth. “Our research also enables us to cross-reference allergies according to a wide range of demographics as well as looking as the co-occurrence of different sorts of allergies in each individual.”

The audit revealed that people are more likely to suffer particular allergies depending on where they live. Airborne allergies, particularly pollen, were clustered in north Dartmoor and Exmoor. Food allergies, particularly nut allergies, were most commonly found in the South Hams. Seafood allergies tended to be found in the far south-west of Cornwall and in the Padstow area.

More than 20 million people in the UK suffer from, or claim to suffer from, allergies: 44% of adults, according to a recent Mintel survey. Of these, 48% say they have more than one allergy. According to the research, however, only 49% of allergy sufferers have been medically diagnosed.

The study found that almost two-thirds of allergy diagnoses were airborne, with many suffering a combination of pollen, dust-mite and animal-hair allergies.

Source: The Guardian