Prevalence of asthma, rhinitis and eczema among children in 2 Canadian cities: the International Study of Asthma and Allergies in Childhood.
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BACKGROUND: Wide variations in the prevalence of asthma, rhinitis and eczema have been reported between regions within Canada and between different countries. The International Study of Asthma and Allergies in Childhood (ISAAC) was developed to provide a standardized tool and methodology to ascertain the prevalence of asthma and allergies in different regions. Comparisons of prevalence rates across geographic regions and at different times may help to identify factors that contribute to the development of these conditions in individuals. METHODS: Two Canadian centres, Hamilton and Saskatoon, participated in the ISAAC. A standard questionnaire was distributed through schools and completed by 13- and 14-year-old children and by the parents of 6- and 7-year-old children. Prevalence rates and 95% confidence intervals were calculated for asthma, wheezing, rhinitis and eczema. RESULTS: The overall response rates were 75.1% among the children 6 and 7 years old and 68.6% among those 13 and 14 years old. Among the younger children, the lifetime prevalence of asthma was 17.2% in Hamilton and 11.2% in Saskatoon; the corresponding rates among the older children were 19.2% and 12.2% respectively. The prevalence of wheezing in the 12 months before the survey in the younger group was 20.1% in Hamilton and 14.1% in Saskatoon; in the older group it was 30.6% and 24.0% respectively. The prevalence of rhinitis in the 12 months before the survey was 28.6% in Hamilton and 22.6% in Saskatoon in the younger group and 45.8% and 33.8% respectively in the older group. The prevalence of eczema was slightly higher in Saskatoon in both age groups. INTERPRETATION: High prevalence rates of asthma, rhinitis and eczema exist among school children in Hamilton and Saskatoon, similar to rates in other Western countries. Further studies are required to determine the factors associated with the high rates in the 2 regions and possible reasons for the higher rates in Hamilton.
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