Prevalence and severity of symptoms of asthma, allergic rhinoconjunctivitis, and atopic eczema in 6- to 7-year-old Nigerian primary school children: the international study of asthma and allergies in childhood

A G Falade, J F Olawuyi, K Osinusi, B O Onadeko
Medical Principles and Practice: International Journal of the Kuwait University, Health Science Centre 2004, 13 (1): 20-5

OBJECTIVE: To determine the prevalence and severity of symptoms of asthma, allergic rhinoconjunctivitis and eczema in Nigerian children aged 6-7 years.

SUBJECTS AND METHODS: A cross-sectional study of selected children in primary schools in Ibadan, Nigeria was conducted using phase I of the International Study of Asthma and Allergies in Childhood (ISAAC) format. Standardized questionnaires were distributed to parents and guardians of 2,325 children aged 6-7 years in 31 primary schools randomly selected among 272 in Ibadan.

RESULTS: Data was collected from 1,704 children (797 boys and 907 girls; M:F ratio 1:1.14), giving a participation rate of 73.3%. Both recent rhinoconjunctivitis and wheeze were reported by 5.1%, and itchy flexural rash in the past 12 months was reported by 8.5%. The cumulative prevalences of reported symptoms of wheezing, rhinitis and eczema were 7.2, 11.3 and 10.1%, respectively. These symptoms were basically the same among the boys and girls (rhinitis 11.4 vs. 11.2%; eczema 10.7 vs. 9.5%), except for wheezing, which was higher in boys (9.0%) than girls (5.6%), p = 0.015. Current symptoms of rhinitis and atopic eczema were associated with current wheeze and severe wheezing, whereas current symptoms of allergic rhinoconjunctivitis were only associated with severe wheezing attacks. One or more current symptoms occurred in 13.2% of the children, and all three symptoms were reported by 0.5%.

CONCLUSION: The study demonstrates a high prevalence of atopic conditions among children 6-7 years old in Ibadan, Nigeria, with more than three fifths of the children who had current wheezing also showing symptoms of other atopic diseases. Children with allergic rhinoconjunctivitis were more likely to have severe wheezing attacks if they had developed atopic eczema before 2 years of age.

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