Risk factors and prevalence of asthma in schoolchildren

In 2002, a cross-sectional population-based study was carried out in Spain, following the International Study of Asthma and Allergies in Childhood (ISAAC) Phase III methodology.

Participation rate was 88 % (4492 of 4872 schoolchildren).

Prevalence of wheeze in the past year, asthma ever, and physician-diagnosed asthma were 8 %, 7 % and 6 %, respectively.

Risk factors independently associated with all three asthma case definitions were:

- history of bronchitis or pneumonia
- allergic rhinitis
- family members with atopic disease
- residing in an industrialised area

Risk factors for asthma:

- male sex
- atopic eczema
- dog at home

Exclusive breast-feeding and the presence of another animal (not a dog or cat) were protective factors.

Maternal age was inversely related to asthma. Residence in an area of heavy truck traffic and the father smoking at home were associated with asthma.

Risk factors for wheeze in the past year were low social class, history of sinusitis and the father smoking at home.

The authors concluded that environmental factors are related to the presence of asthma.
Preventive measures should be directed to improving air pollution, promoting breast-feeding and reducing smoking in the home.

Fatty acids in breast milk, n-3 long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids (LCPs), may have a protective role in the development of atopic disease.

References:
Risk factors and prevalence of asthma in schoolchildren in Castellon (Spain): a cross-sectional study. Arnedo-Pena A, Puig-Barberà J, Bellido-Blasco JB, Pac-Sa MR, Campos-Cruañes JB, Artero-Sivera A, Museros-Recatalá L. Allergol Immunopathol (Madr). 2009 May-Jun;37(3):135-42.
Image source: Wikipedia, public domain.

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