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No increase in the prevalence of asthma, allergies, and atopic sensitisation among children in Germany: 1992–2001

Abstract

Background: From 1970 to 1990 increasing rates of asthma and allergic sensitisation were observed in several countries. The aim of this study was to investigate time trends in the prevalence of asthma and allergic sensitisation among school children in Germany between 1992 and 2001.

Methods: Parental reports of asthma, hay fever, and wheezing and measurements of specific serum IgE antibodies were investigated in six serial cross sectional surveys of 9–11 year old school children in three study areas in south west Germany.

Results: A total of 6762 school children of mean age 10 years (mean participation rate 77.9%) took part in the investigation in the three study areas. Over the 9 year study period no increase in the prevalence of current wheezing and asthma was observed. In addition, the prevalence of atopic sensitisation remained unchanged during the observation period.

Conclusions: These data, using parental reports and objective measures of allergy, suggest that there has been no further increase in the prevalence of asthma and atopy since 1992. The epidemic may thus have reached a plateau.

  • asthma
  • allergy
  • children
  • prevalence

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  • Competing interests: none declared

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    BMJ Publishing Group Ltd and British Thoracic Society