Location, location, location. It’s not just about real estate anymore. According to Australian researchers, where a person lives may a play role in the development of allergic disease.

“UV-B rays exposure is higher for people living in areas closer to the Equator,” said lead study author Vicka Oktaria, MPH. “This increase in UV-B may be linked to vitamin D, which is thought to modify the immune system. These modifications can lead to an elevated risk of developing allergy and asthma.”

For the study, researchers correlated data from the Tasmanian Longitudinal Health Study — a population-based study of respiratory disease spanning childhood to adulthood — with the residential addresses of all participants; they also accounted for UV-B data from satellite-based observations of atmospheric ozone.

They discovered that living in the latitude closest to the Equator was associated with increased odds of hay fever, food allergy, and skin sensitization to house dust mites and molds. More northerly latitude and higher UV-B exposure were associated with increased odds of current asthma among atopic individuals contrasting with a reduced odds of current asthma among nonatopic individuals.