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Short term effects of airborne pollen concentrations on asthma epidemic
  1. A Tobías1,3,
  2. I Galán2,
  3. J R Banegas3,
  4. E Aránguez2
  1. 1Department of Statistics and Econometrics, Universidad Carlos III de Madrid, Getafe, Spain
  2. 2Institute of Public Health, Consejería de Sanidad, Madrid, Spain
  3. 3Department of Preventive Medicine and Public Health, Universidad Autónoma de Madrid, Madrid, Spain
  1. Correspondence to:
    Dr A Tobías, Department of Statistics and Econometrics, Universidad Carlos III de Madrid, C/ Madrid 126, E-28903 Getafe, Spain;


Background: Few studies have used time series to investigate the relationship between asthma attacks and aeroallergen levels on a daily basis.

Methods: This study, based on time series analysis adjusting for meteorological factors and air pollution variables, assessed the short term effects of different types of allergenic pollen on asthma hospital emergencies in the metropolitan area of Madrid (Spain) for the period 1995–8.

Results: Statistically significant associations were found for Poaceae pollen (lag of 3 days) and Plantago pollen (lag of 2 days), representing an increase in the range between the 99th and 95th percentiles of 17.1% (95% confidence interval (CI) 3.2 to 32.8) and 15.9% (95% CI 6.5 to 26.2) for Poaceae and Plantago, respectively. A positive association was also observed for Urticaceae (lag of 1 day) with an 8.4% increase (95% CI 2.8 to 14.4).

Conclusions: There is an association between pollen levels and asthma related emergencies, independent of the effect of air pollutants. The marked relationship observed for Poaceae and Plantago pollens suggests their implication in the epidemic distribution of asthma during the period coinciding with their abrupt release into the environment.

  • asthma
  • pollen
  • allergy
  • time series regression

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  • Conflict of interest: none.

  • This study was funded by the Advisory Committee to the Madrid Regional Asthma Prevention and Control Programme (Comisión Asesora del Programa Regional de Prevención y Control del Asthma de la Comunidad de Madrid). Aurelio Tobías had a postgraduate fellowship from the Universidad Autónoma de Madrid.