[Prevalence and severity of bronchial asthma, allergic rhinitis and atopic dermatitis in Salzburg school children]

W Eder, A Gamper, G Oberfeld, J Riedler
Wiener Klinische Wochenschrift 1998 October 16, 110 (19): 669-77
As part of the International Study of Asthma and Allergies in Childhood (ISAAC), the aim of our study was to determine the prevalence and severity of asthma, allergic rhinitis and eczema in Austrian schoolchildren, using an international standardised protocol. A questionnaire concerning symptoms and prior diagnosis of asthma, allergic rhinitis and eczema was completed by the parents of 3581 children aged 6-8 years. 3357 adolescents aged 12-15 years completed a written and video questionnaire at school. We also measured airway responsiveness to 4.5% saline in 519 adolescents selected from 8 randomly chosen schools. The prevalence of "wheezing in the last 12 months" was 9.9% (6-8 yrs) and 11.9% (12-15 yrs), the prevalence of "ever having had a diagnosis of asthma" was 4.4% and 6.3% in the above mentioned age groups. While 80% of the pupils had mild asthma (defined as less than 4 attacks of wheezing in the last year), 13% had moderate (4-12 attacks) and 7% had severe asthma (> 12 attacks). The 12-month prevalence of symptoms of allergic rhinitis was 13.4% (6-8 yrs) and 22.5% (12-15 yrs), a diagnosis of "hayfever at any time" was reported in 8.9% and 20.4%. The prevalence of a chronic rash in the past year was 6.9% (6-8 yrs) and 6.7% (12-15 yrs), while 10.4% and 5%, respectively, had had a diagnosis of "eczema at any time". Among 12- to 15-year-old adolescents in the entire study population (n = 3371), the calculated prevalence of bronchial hyperresponsiveness was 13.7%. The prevalence of asthma symptoms, rhinitis and eczema in Austrian schoolchildren is higher than that estimated so far and similar to other European countries except the UK. Further, the results show that the 12-month prevalence of asthma symptoms is twice as high as the lifetime prevalence of a diagnosis of asthma, suggesting that the condition is frequently underdiagnosed.

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