Istituto di Fisiologia Clinica     
Galassi C., De Sario M., Biggeri A., Bisanti L., Chellini E., Ciccone G., Petronio M. G., Piffer S., Sestini P., Rusconi F., Viegi G., Forastiere F. Changes in prevalence of asthma and allergies among children and adolescents in Italy: 1994-2002. In: Pediatrics, vol. 117 pp. 34 - 42. American Academy of Pediatrics, 2006.
BACKGROUND. Several studies conducted during the 1990s indicated an increase in the prevalence of symptoms of asthma; more recent investigations suggest that the trend is stabilizing or may even be reversing. OBJECTIVE. We compared 2 cross-sectional surveys conducted in 1994 and 2002 in 8 areas in northern and central Italy, to evaluate prevalence changes for asthma, allergic rhinitis, and eczema. METHODS. The International Study of Asthma and Allergies in Childhood methods and questionnaires were used to investigate 6- to 7-year-old children (16 115 and 11 287 questionnaires completed by parents in 1994-1995 and 2002, respectively) and 13- to 14-year-old adolescents (19 723 and 10 267 questionnaires completed by adolescents in 1994-1995 and 2002, respectively). In each phase, the overall response rate was =90%. Prevalence changes were calculated as the absolute difference between the prevalence recorded on the 2 occasions. RESULTS. The prevalence of wheeze (past 12 months) increased slightly among children (change: 0.8%; 95% confidence interval [CI]: 0.0% to 1.6%) and was rather stable among adolescents. Symptoms of allergic rhinitis (children: change: 5.2%; 95% CI: 4.0% to 6.4%; adolescents: change: 4.1%; 95% CI: 1.9% to 6.3%) and symptoms of atopic eczema (children: change: 4.4%; 95% CI: 3.6% to 5.2%; adolescents: change: 2.1%; 95% CI: 1.2% to 3.0%) increased clearly in both age groups. There was some heterogeneity across the centers among adolescents, especially for allergic rhinitis, with larger increases seen in the 3 metropolitan areas. The changes observed paralleled profound family changes, ie, better parental education, higher rates of maternal employment, and lower rates of exposure to parental smoke. These factors, however, do not explain all of the observed changes in prevalence. CONCLUSIONS. The results indicate that the epidemiologic features of asthma and allergies in Italy are changing rapidly, although the causes are still uncertain.
URL: http://www.pediatric.org
Subject children

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