Is living in America a risk factor for developing serious allergies and asthma? It sure seems that way. Asthma, skin and food allergies are much more common in Americans than foreigners, according to a new study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.
Foreign kids who move to the United States, the new study shows, are 59 percent less likely to suffer from allergies than kids who were born here. But the longer that foreign kids live in the US, the more likely they are to develop allergies, too.
The study was lead by researchers at St. Luke's-Roosevelt Hospital Center in New York and looked at more than 91,000 children.
More from GlobalPost: Food allergies more prevalent in city kids
"This is definitely something we see clinically and we're trying to better understand, what is it in our environment that's increasing the risk of allergic disease?" Dr. Ruchi Gupta, a researcher not involved with the study, told Reuters. "Food allergies have increased tremendously."
Researchers have long suspected that the "hygiene hypothesis,"--which proposes that American kids aren't exposed to enough germs at a young age to build resistance--and our poor diets are to blame.The JAMA study at least partly supports the hygiene hypothesis, according to MSN.
But the hygiene hypothesis does not explain the increased asthma risk, according to Consumer Affairs. The number of American kids with asthma continues to soar.