[Incidence of allergic diseases in East and West Germany]

E Hermann-Kunz
Das Gesundheitswesen 1999, 61: S100-5
Using data of the German National Health Interview and Examination Survey 1998, a remarkable difference in the prevalence of hay fever between East and West Germany has been observed. Several studies in children and adults have also shown a considerable East-West divergence in other allergic diseases and in sensitisation rates. The aim of this investigation was to examine whether in a representative sample of the adult German population East-West differences in the frequency of asthma, atopic dermatitis, food allergy, urticaria, contact dermatitis and "other allergies" can be found. The calculations base on data of a physician's interview in which study participants were asked whether a physician had ever diagnosed one of the above mentioned diseases. A higher prevalence of all allergic diseases has been observed in West compared to East Germany and women from both parts of the country have higher morbidity rates than men. At least one physician-diagnosed allergy was reported by 40% of the study participants, whereas in East Germany about 30% and in the West 43% suffer from an allergic disease. The prevalence in women is 47% and in men 33%. Extremely high allergy rates were found among West German women at the age of 30-39 years (62%). Although the frequency of allergies decreases with increasing age, considerably high morbidity rates were ascertained even in the oldest age groups. The prevalence in participants aged 70-79 years amounts to 25%. Clear differences between East and West could be demonstrated in this age group, too (West 27% and East 14%).

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