Loss of biodiversity may lead to increase in asthma

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A decline in biodiversity could be contributing to the rise of asthma, allergies and other chronic inflammatory diseases in cities worldwide, according to a new study.

The prevalence of asthma, allergies and other chronic inflammatory diseases has been increasing in urban areas across the world. The study, published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, investigated whether teenagerswho had reduced contact with environmental features and biodiversity were more at risk of developing asthma and allergies.

The researchers investigated 118 teenagers living in Finland. They looked at participants’ exposure to different environmental factors and also examined microbes living in the skin, airway and gut, which are thought to protect against inflammatory disorders.

The results showed that people living on farms or near forests had more diverse bacteria on their skin and lower allergen sensitivity than people living with less environmental biodiversity, such as urban areas or near bodies of water.

The findings suggest that the increasing prevalence of inflammatory diseases may be associated with the changing biodiversity of the environment, associated with the development of rural areas and growth of urban landscapes.

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