Sunlight may be key to allergies

The study of 7600 children found that those in southern parts of the country were more likely to develop these conditions than those who lived further north.

Associate Professor Katie Allen, from the Murdoch Childrens Research Institute, Melbourne, said the results support the hypothesis that vitamin D may be a contributing factor.

"The research lends to the already existing hypothesis that the further you are from the equator the more likely you are to have food allergies and eczema," she said.

The study, published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, found that among four- to five-year-olds, children residing in southern Australia were more likely to have allergies.

In the eight- to nine-year-old age group, the odds of having a peanut allergy were six times greater, and the odds of having eczema were twice as great in the southernmost children compared with those living in the north.