Children playing outside
Getting kids outdoors and exposed to sunshine is one of the healthiest things you can do

Playing in the sun could reduce kids’ eczema and allergy risk

6 February, 2012

Natural Health News — Increased exposure to sunlight may reduce the risk of both food allergies and eczema in children, according to a new scientific study.

Researchers in Europe and Australia have found that children living in areas with lower levels of sunlight are at greater risk of developing food allergies and the skin condition eczema, compared to those in areas with higher UV.

The research team used data from a study of Australian children and analysed how rates of food allergy, eczema and asthma varied throughout the country.

Australia is a particularly good place for this type of study as it spans nearly 3000 miles from north to south, with a large variation in climate, day length and sun strength – from Queensland in the north to Tasmania in the south.

More food allergies, eczema

As well as finding a link between latitude and allergies to peanut and egg, the early findings of the study published in a letter in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology showed that on average children in the south of the country – where exposure to sunlight is lower – are twice as likely to develop eczema as those in the north.

Sunlight is important because it provides our body with the fuel to create vitamin D in the skin, and locations closer to the equator typically receive higher levels of sunshine.

Dr Nick Osborne, who led the research, believes these findings provide us with an important insight into the prevalence of food allergies and eczema, which appear to be on the increase.

He also noted that exposure to sunlight can vary for a host of reasons that have nothing to do with geography, including personal behaviour.

Kids need sun

The report builds upon existing evidence that suggests exposure to the sun may play a role in rising levels of food allergy and eczema. Encouraging children to play outdoors in the sun when possible has important health benefits.

Many experts recommend 15- 20 minutes of exposure (not between the hours of 11am and 2pm when the sun is at its most intense – though this can vary geographically!) without suncream to help improve vitamin D levels.