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Asthma, atopy and tuberculin responses in Chinese schoolchildren in Hong Kong


BACKGROUND The prevalence rates of asthma and other atopic disorders have increased steadily in many developed countries over the past few decades. Recent epidemiological and animal studies have suggested that BCG vaccination might be beneficial in reducing the subsequent development of atopy. This study investigates the relationship between asthma, allergic symptoms, atopy, and tuberculin response in Chinese schoolchildren who received BCG vaccination at birth.

METHODS A total of 3110 schoolchildren aged 10 years were recruited for the Hong Kong arm of the phase II International Study of Asthma and Allergies in Childhood. Of the 2599 children born in Hong Kong and vaccinated with BCG after birth, 2201 had tuberculin testing performed at a mean (SD) age of 8.4 (1.4) years. A random subsample of 980 children was also recruited for skin prick testing.

RESULTS The prevalence rates of asthma ever, wheeze ever, current wheeze, current rhinoconjunctivitis, and current flexural eczema were not significantly different between tuberculin positive and negative subjects. The mean (SE) tuberculin response was 3.4 (0.2) mm in atopic subjects and 3.3 (0.2) mm in non-atopic subjects (difference not significant). Logistic regression analyses did not reveal any significant relationship between asthma ever, current wheeze, atopy, and positive tuberculin responses.

CONCLUSIONS This study did not find any relationship between asthma, allergic symptoms, atopy, and positive tuberculin reactivity in Chinese schoolchildren vaccinated with BCG at birth.

  • asthma
  • atopy
  • tuberculosis
  • immunisation
  • children
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