An interesting result of the analysis was that there was a larger increase in claims from rural areas than in urban or suburban areas. Though both urban and rural allergy-related claims decreased in 2016, rural claims increased 110 percent while urban claims increased 70 percent over the entire 10-year period. That is intriguing because numerous studies have shown that children growing up in rural areas are less prone to allergies, possibly because the increased exposure to nature gives their immune systems a workout and makes them less likely to react to environmental triggers such as peanuts or eggs.
|FAIR Health Inc. chart; click on it to enlarge it.|
Experts have plenty of theories about the cause of the increase and severity of allergies. "The increase could be related to the increasing use of antibiotics, rising rates of Caesarean sections that affect the microbiomes of babies, and an increasingly sterile environment, says Hugh Sampson, director of the Jaffe Food Allergy Institute at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York City. All have altered the good bacteria in our intestinal tracts, which alters the programming of our immune systems," Reddy reports. Sampson says another problem is that parents have been told to avoid giving highly allergenic foods such as peanuts to small children, an approach that appears to have backfired. Allergies to peanuts and tree nuts have at least doubled in the U.S. over the past 20 years.