INTRODUCTION: The striking worldwide variation in the prevalence of asthma and its divergent changes over time necessitates regional longitudinal studies.
OBJECTIVE: We aimed to examine the asthma situation in Greece.
METHODS: Data from a longitudinal study of a representative nationwide sample derived from the National Perinatal Survey (11 049 consecutive births in April 1983) were analyzed in an attempt to describe the prevalence and natural course of asthma from birth throughout childhood to adolescence. We followed up with 2133 children (at the ages of 7 and 18 years) by using written questionnaires. The diagnostic labeling of asthma was confirmed by a physician on the basis of a history of wheeze attacks, nocturnal cough, exertional symptoms, and response to treatment.
RESULTS: Prevalence rates of current asthma were 7.7% and 4.7% and of lifetime asthma were 19.6% and 26.3% at 7 and 18 years, respectively. More than half (58.2%) of the children with early-onset asthma (onset before the age of 7 years) were free of symptoms at the age of 7 years, and only 7.6% continued to be symptomatic at 18 years. In 6.7% of the participants asthma symptoms appeared between 7 and 18 years of age (late-onset asthma). In almost half (48.2%) of these children symptoms were persisting at the age of 18 years.
CONCLUSIONS: These findings illustrate that asthma remains a significant health care problem for Greek children and adolescents. Continued surveillance of asthma prevalence and its longitudinal predictors is necessary to assist health care professionals with adequately informing children and their parents on the course of the disease.
Submitted by Flora Bacopoulou
- Copyright © 2008 by the American Academy of Pediatrics