Children with allergic sensitizations in economically developed countries are much more likely to develop asthma than similarly sensitized children in poorer countries, according to a team of international researchers.
The global research study is the first to link economic development to differences in rates of asthma symptoms and allergic sensitization, based on examination of a large, multi-center cross-sectional study of 8- to 12-year-old children who participated in Phase Two of the International Study of Asthma and Allergy in Childhood (ISAAC).
The findings were published in the second issue for September of the American Thoracic Societys American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine.
Atopic sensitization has long been known to be related to childhood asthma, wrote Gudrun Weinmayr, M.D., M.P.H., of the Institute of Epidemiology of Ulm University in Germany, and lead investigator of the study. Dr. Weinmayr noted that the strongest relationships have been found in studies in affluent western countries. Thus, it may be that the link between asthma and atopic sensitization differs between countries.
Dr. Weinmayr and colleagues evaluated parents answers about their childrens respiratory symptoms from over 54,000 standardized questionnaires; assessed the results of more than 31,000 skin-prick tests; and analyzed the serum levels of allergen-specific IgE in nearly 9,000 children from 22 countries, from rural African to urban Europe.
They then determined the degree to which allergic sensitizations and asthma symptoms varied with the gross national income per capita (GNI) of the country from which they were collected.
We observed large variations in the prevalence of asthma symptoms and of atopic sensitization among populations, wrote Dr. Gundmayr. The association between current wheeze, an indicator of asthma, and skin prick sensitivity, an indicator of allergic reaction, was strong in virtuall
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