Prevalence of non-food allergies among British Columbia residents from different countries of origin

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Date: March-April 2017
From: Canadian Journal of Public Health(Vol. 108, Issue 2)
Publisher: Springer
Document Type: Letter to the editor
Length: 952 words
Lexile Measure: 1460L

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Dear Editor:

Re: Yao J, Sbihi H. Prevalence of non-food allergies among non-immigrants, long-time immigrants and recent immigrants in Canada. Can J Public Health 2016; 107(4-5):e461-e466. PMID: 28026714. doi: 10.17269/CJPH.107.5614

We read with interest the above article published by Yao and Sbihi in the Canadian Journal of Public Health. The authors reported the prevalence of non-food (mainly respiratory) allergies in Canada to be lower among immigrants and rightly attributed this to environmental causes. However, as they discussed in their article, the extent and direction of this association remains controversial.

When investigating allergies among Canadian immigrants, a distinction should be made between European immigrants and African and Asian immigrants. The rates of allergies among people living in Europe and North America are higher than among those living in Asia and Africa, which has previously been attributed to genetics and the environment. (1) As well, many Canadian immigrants originate from Europe: based on the 2006 Census, the place of birth for most immigrants to Canada was the United Kingdom, followed by China and India. Many others originated from Italy, USA, Germany and Poland. (2)

In addition, a distinction should be made between diagnosed and perceived allergies. Immigrants may perceive diseases differently due to a lack of knowledge about or access to health care. (3) This may be especially true for allergies, as they manifest in a wide range of symptoms. Lower rates of allergy among immigrants may be attributed to...

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Gale Document Number: GALE|A496643792