Association between latitude and allergic diseases: a longitudinal study from childhood to middle-age

Vicka Oktaria, Shyamali C Dharmage, John Burgess, Julie A Simpson, Stephen Morrison, Graham G Giles, Michael John Abramson, E Haydn Walters, Melanie C Matheson

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23 Citations (Scopus)


Worldwide variations in allergy prevalence suggest that geographic factors may contribute to asthma. Ecologic studies have suggested that latitude, a marker of UV-B exposure and allergen exposures, may be related to clinical allergies. Objective To examine the relationship between latitude or UV-B based on self-reported geolocation and allergic sensitization and disease prevalence in Australia. Methods The Tasmanian Longitudinal Health Study is a population-based study of respiratory disease spanning childhood to adulthood. The most recent follow-up included a postal survey of 5,729 participants and a clinical substudy of 1,396 participants. Participants residential addresses were coded for latitude and linked with the UV-B data from satellite-based observations of atmospheric ozone. Multivariable logistic regression analyses were performed to estimate the associations between latitude or UV-B and allergic diseases. Results Most northerly latitude, that is, latitude closest to the Equator, and high current UV-B exposure were associated with increased odds of hay fever, food allergy, and skin sensitization to house dust mites and molds. More northerly latitude and higher UV-B exposure were associated with increased odds of current asthma among atopic individuals contrasting with a reduced odds of current asthma among nonatopic individuals. Conclusion This is the first study, to our knowledge, to demonstrate a differential effect of atopic status on the relationship between latitude and current asthma. Our study demonstrates in a genetically and culturally similar group of individuals that geographic factors may a play role in the development of allergic disease.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)80 - 85
Number of pages6
JournalAnnals of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2013

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