Prevalence of non-food allergies among non-immigrants, long-time immigrants and recent immigrants in Canada

Jiayun Yao, Hind Sbihi


OBJECTIVES: The prevalence of allergic conditions has been increasing worldwide, with the highest rates seen in Western countries like Canada. The development of allergies is known to be related to both genetic and environmental factors, but the causal pathways remain unclear. Studies on immigrants provide a unique opportunity to disentangle these two factors and provide a better understanding of the disease aetiology. The aim of this study was to investigate the relationship between immigration status and prevalence of non-food allergies in a population-based study of Canadians.

METHODS: Data of 116,232 respondents from the Canadian Community Health Survey (Cycle 3.1, 2005) were used in a multivariable logistic regression to assess the association between immigration status (non-immigrant, long-time immigrant [>10 years] and recent immigrant [≤10 years]) and self-reported doctor-diagnosed non-food allergies, adjusting for potential confounders.

RESULTS: The highest prevalence of non-food allergies was found among non-immigrants (29.6%), followed by long-time immigrants (23.9%) and then recent immigrants (14.3%). The odds of non-food allergies were reduced by 60% (OR = 0.40, 95% CI: 0.35, 0.45) among recent immigrants and 25% (OR = 0.75, 95% CI: 0.70, 0.80) among long-time immigrants, compared with non-immigrants, after adjusting for sex, age, socio-economic status and rurality.

CONCLUSION: This study finds a distinctly lower prevalence of non-food allergies among immigrants compared with non-immigrants, with the difference diminishing with longer duration of residence in Canada. The findings highlight the potential of environmental determinants of allergy development that warrant further investigation, and demonstrate the need for multicultural strategies to manage the public health burden of allergic conditions.


Allergy and immunology; respiratory hypersensitivity; emigrants and immigrants; socio-economic factors

Full Text: