A new study from the University of British Columbia found that Vancouver has the highest rate of children developing allergies in Canada.
The research from the Canadian Healthy Infant Longitudinal Development (CHILD) study shows that the exposure to outdoor air pollution during the first year of life is the biggest culprit in the development of allergies to food, mould, pets and pests. Air pollution could be the reason why so many children – 23.5 per cent! – develop sensitivity to allergens in Vancouver.
“With the increasing rates of allergies amongst children in Canada and elsewhere, we were interested in determining if air pollution from traffic might be partially responsible,” said Michael Brauer, the study’s senior author and a professor in the School of Population and Public Health at UBC.
Vancouver children fared the worst in Canada with almost a quarter of all children developing allergies, while only 17 per cent of children in Toronto and Edmonton and nine per cent in Manitoba had allergies.
The study is the first of its kind to link air pollution to allergen sensitivity in a child’s first year of life. “Understanding which environmental exposures in early life affect the development of allergies can help tailor preventative measures for children,” said Hind Sbihi, a PhD candidate at UBC and first author of the study.
Such preventative measures could be living with furry pets, having no attached garage, attending daycare or living with older siblings.