50%1 of children in the UK now have some form of allergic condition. Why is this figure so high? It would seem that the rise in allergic sufferers could stem from a number of contributing factors.
First and foremost, there is the genetic influence. It has been established that the most important risk factor for developing allergies is as a result of being born to a mother or father that suffers with allergic disease.2 Children born into families where allergies already exist show a higher than average chance of developing allergies themselves.
This increased tendency for families and individuals to develop allergies is known as being atopic. Researchers estimate that over half of children from atopic families will go on to develop an allergic disease, while the incidence of allergy in children from families that have no allergic history is only one in five.2 That having been said, it is acknowledged that the rise in the number of sufferers within one generation has been so great, that there must be other influencing factors involved beyond genetics.3