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To What Extent Do External Factors Contribute to the Development of Allergies?

Niarah Ahmad, Dominic Fazel, Teresa Buitrago, Foteini Tsipou, Veselin Boyadhzhiev

Abstract

Introduction: Allergies are a widespread condition affecting 30-35% of the population at some stage in their life. The prevalence of allergic diseases continues to rapidly rise globally each year according to the World Allergy Organization (WAO), whilst the cause remains unknown.

Materials and Methods: Our aim was to determine to what extent external factors can contribute to the development of allergies.

A cross-sectional study was undertaken in March 2017 using anonymous questionnaires. The questionnaires were distributed on social media to ensure a wide range of participants of all ages. Information about the kind of allergens implicated and the severity of the allergic reaction was collected. Of particular interest was the age group where the allergies first appear, the mode of delivery (vaginal or Caesarian section) and if the pregnancy was to term, breastfeeding practices, the type of area they grew up in, activity and stress levels, lifestyle choices (smoking, diet rich in plants), their BMI, as well as family history of allergies.

Results: Results from 121 participants were obtained and analyzed. The investigation revealed that one of the most prominent factors increasing the risk of the development of allergies was if an individual was born prematurely, as 100% were found to have allergies. Additionally, of those who were not breastfed, 77% had allergies, whilst 23% did not. Furthermore, of those living a very stressful life, 71% had allergies. Moreover, other risk factors included being delivered by Caesarian section, raised in a city, having minimal daily activity, smoking and having increased BMI.

Conclusions: Although our results are promising, we believe that additional research is needed in order to better define the correlations between external factors and the development of allergies.


Keywords

allergy, external, environmental, factors


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