Why the rise?
An allergy epidemic is sweeping parts of the world. Sue Emmett reports on a huge study in India which researchers hope will help them discover why. (SMH)
Concern over rise in allergies
BBC News Channel
last updated at 01:15 GMT, Thursday, 16 April 2009 02:15 UK
Two Indian cities could help scientists uncover the secrets of allergies
It has long been suspected that the environment and the modern way of life are in some way responsible for the rise in allergies in the Western world.
In the Indian cities of Mysore and Bangalore the affluent middle classes are growing at a rapid pace and its members are pursuing increasingly Westernised lifestyles.
They live alongside poorer rural and urban communities which retain a more traditional way of life.
As the ranks of the middle class have expanded, doctors have observed that so has the incidence of allergic asthma.
Project leader Dr Mahesh Rao says researchers have established that there has been a 50% rise in asthma in the area in past five years.
Yet the more traditional communities are the least affected.
This appears to follow a pattern that has been seen in other parts of the world where Westernisation has taken place, he says.