MELBOURNE, Aug. 23 (PNA/Xinhua) — Melbourne has become the allergy capital of the world because the city’s residents lack vitamin D and are “too clean,” according to experts.
Allergy experts from all over the world converged in Melbourne for the 2016 International Congress of Immunology (ICI) with an international consensus on how to prevent the development of allergies at the top of the agenda.
Speaking on the first day of the ICI event, Professor Katie Allen of the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute said that Melbourne’s geographical location and cooler climate was probably the reason why it was worse than other Australian cities.
“Unfortunately, Australia does appear to be the food allergy capital of the world, with Melbourne leading the way,” Allen told the conference, as published by Fairfax Media on Tuesday.
“The further from the equator you live, the higher the risk of food allergy.”
Allen’s hypothesis corroborated the popular theory that vitamin D deficiencies, particularly prominent in cooler climates due to the lack of exposure to sunlight, could contribute to the development of allergies.
Allen also said that parents being overly protective of their children by not letting them play in dirty environments was also a significant contributor.
“The exposure to microbes in the right form, whether it’s getting out and playing in the dirt or with dogs or going to farms, appears to be protective and we’re just not getting enough of that in the built environment here in Melbourne,” Allen said.
Belgian Professor Hamida Hammad said her research team found that children exposed to farm environments produced a protein called A20 which appeared to protect them from inflammation responses.
“Children from a very low age, before the age of two, need to be exposed to certain environmental triggers like farm dust or bugs and this will induce the increased expression of this protein A20 in their structural cells in their lungs,” she said.
Approximately one in 10 Australian infants are affected by allergies compared to the global average of one in 20 children.