Several studies have revealed that the prevalence of allergies is low in children who live in farms. In a study published in the official journal of American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology (AAAAI), the researchers had compared the prevalence of allergic sensitization in a population of Amish children in the age group of 6 to 12 years with both children living on Swiss farms and non-farm children. The results showed a very low prevalence of allergic sensitization in Amish children who reside in northern Indiana where most people follow an agrarian lifestyle. Research in an alpine area of Austria also found differences (18.8% vs 32.7%) in atopic sensitization in farm and non-farm children.
According to the author of the study, the early exposure to dirty environments and a variety of dust and germs in farm life may be the reason why farm children have lower rates of allergic reactions. Children who live on farms work with animals, are in the barn, and drink raw milk (though author does not recommend the intake of raw milk as it contains many dangerous bacteria). Other studies have also revealed the protective effect of rural life. As per a study on three Chinese cities, the prevalence of atopy in the children who live in the Westernized city of Hong Kong was twice that of children in Beijing. The prevalence of wheezing in the children who reside in Hong Kong was also very high. The protective factors noted by this study noted are exposure to cotton quilts, raw fruits and vegetables. However, the researchers do not know exactly how rural living helps in improving the immune system.
Data released by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) in 2013 revealed that allergies caused by food or the environment have risen sharply in U.S. children in recent years. Food allergies among the children age 18 was found to have increased from 3.4 percent in 1997 to 5.1 percent in 2011 whereas skin allergies in the same group of children increased from 7.4 percent to 12.5 percent during the same period. The major finding of CDC data is that the children from more affluent families had higher prevalence of allergies. In this case too, CDC statisticians could not explain how affluence is related to allergies in children.
Research studies such as these have a great significance in allergy prevention and treatment in children. Recent research is focused on identifying the reasons for food allergy such as peanut allergy in children and adults and how to prevent it. As allergy doctors deal with the rising cases of food and environment related allergies, their documentation needs via EMR or regular transcription would also increase significantly.