BACKGROUND: A clear understanding of the differences in the epidemiology of food allergy between rural and urban populations may provide insights into the causes of increasing prevalence of food allergy in the developed world.
OBJECTIVE: We used a standardized methodology to determine the prevalence and types of food-specific allergic sensitization and food allergies in schoolchildren from urban and rural regions of China, Russia, and India.
METHODS: The current study is a multicenter epidemiological survey of children recruited from 5 cities in China (Hong Kong and Guangzhou), Russia (Tomsk), and India (Bengaluru and Mysore) and 1 rural county in Southern China (Shaoguan). A total of 35,549 children aged 6 to 11 years from 3 countries participated in this survey. Random samples of children from 3 countries were first screened by the EuroPrevall screening questionnaire. Children with and without a history of adverse reactions to foods were then recruited for the subsequent case-control comparative studies. We determined the prevalence rates of food-specific IgE sensitization and food allergies using the predefined criteria.
RESULTS: The prevalence rates of food-specific IgE sensitization (≥0.7 kU/L) to at least 1 food were 16.6% in Hong Kong, 7.0% in Guangzhou, 16.8% in rural Shaoguan, 8.0% in Tomsk, and 19.1% in India. Using a definition of probable food allergy as reporting allergic symptoms within 2 hours of ingestion of a specific food plus the presence of allergic sensitization to the specific food (positive IgE and/or positive skin prick test result), the prevalence of food allergy was highest in Hong Kong (1.50%), intermediate in Russia (0.87%), and lowest in Guangzhou (0.21%), Shaoguan (0.69%), and India (0.14%). For children recruited from Hong Kong, both sensitization and food allergy were significantly higher in children who were born and raised in Hong Kong when compared with those who were born in mainland China and migrated to Hong Kong, highlighting the importance of early-life exposures in affecting the subsequent development of food sensitization and food allergy.
CONCLUSIONS: There are wide variations in the prevalence of food-specific IgE sensitization and food allergy in the 3 participating countries. Food allergy appears to be less common when compared with developed countries. The variations in the prevalence of food allergen sensitization cannot be explained by the differences in the degree of urbanization. Despite the high prevalence of food-specific IgE sensitization in India and rural China, food allergy is still extremely uncommon. In addition to IgE sensitization, other factors must play important roles resulting in the clinical manifestations of food allergies.
|The journal of allergy and clinical immunology. In practice
|Early online date
|16 Dec 2019
|Published - 2019