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Ann Allergy Asthma Immunol. 2013 Feb;110(2):80-5.e1. doi: 10.1016/j.anai.2012.11.005.

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

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Centre for Molecular, Environmental, Genetic and Analytic Epidemiology, School of Population Health, University of Melbourne, Melbourne, Australia.



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.


To examine the relationship between latitude or UV-B based on self-reported geolocation and allergic sensitization and disease prevalence in Australia.


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.


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.


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.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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