People living in rural households have a lower risk of developing inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) than those living in urban areas, according to the authors of a new study published in the American Journal of Gastroenterology .
The findings come at a time when the incidence of IBD has risen in various areas of the world, particularly in children living in developed nations and in newly industrialised countries experiencing increased urbanisation.
The study identified a total of 45,567 patients diagnosed with IBD; 6,662 of the patients were living in rural residences and 38,905 were living in urban residences, from 1999 to 2010 in four Canadian provinces. The overall incidence of IBD was 30.72 per 100,000 person-years in the rural population compared with 33.16 per 100,000 in the urban population. The protective association was strongest in children aged 10 years and younger.
”We’ve known that in addition to genetic risk factors, environmental factors have been associated with the risk of developing IBD. But this new study demonstrates the importance of early life exposure in altering the risk of IBD, and that needs further study,” said lead author, Dr. Eric Benchimol.