PURPOSE OF THE STUDY.
This study is a continuation of the Aberdeen Schools Asthma Survey; the first survey was completed in 1964. Subsequent surveys were repeated in 1989, 1994, 1999, and 2004. This survey reports lifetime prevalence of asthma, eczema, hay fever, and wheeze in the previous 3 years. Trends over a 10-year period (1999, 2004, and 2009) were analyzed.
Children aged 9 to 12 years in Aberdeen, United Kingdom, were invited to participate in this study.
Questionnaires were distributed to children by school staff, completed by parents at home, returned to school staff, and then collected by the research team. The same questionnaire that was used in 2004 was used for this study. In addition, International Study of Allergy and Asthma in Children (ISAAC) questions were included.
A total of 2253 children were eligible for the study, and 1196 (53%) of the surveys were returned. The average age of the children was 10.8 years, and 588 (49%) of them were male. Of 31 eligible primary schools, 26 participated in the study. The number of schools that participated was similar to the number that participated in the surveys in 2004. The lifetime prevalence of asthma rose from 24.3% in 1999 to 28.4% in 2004 but decreased to 22.1% in 2009 (P < .001). The prevalence of wheeze in the previous 3 years decreased from 27.9% in 1999 to 25.2% in 2004 and 22.2% in 2009 (P < .001). The lifetime prevalence of eczema rose between 1999 and 2004 (21.4%–34.1%), and there was a small decline in 2009 (33.5%) (P < .001). Similar trends were seen for hay-fever prevalence. There was a significant change in prevalence for girls compared with boys for asthma, eczema, and wheeze in the previous 3 years.
Asthma, eczema, and hay fever remain common health conditions for children in the United Kingdom, but after many years of increasing prevalence, the number of affected children seems to finally be decreasing.
From 1964 to 2004, the prevalence of asthma, eczema, hay fever, and wheeze in the previous 3 years had increased in the United Kingdom. Since 2004, there has been a decline in the prevalence of these health conditions. A similar trend has also been reported in other countries, and we hope that rates will continue to decline worldwide. Although this study was not designed to explain why asthma prevalence has decreased, the authors did comment on reasons that might account for the decline, including revised guidelines for diagnosing and managing asthma and bans on smoking in public places.
- Copyright © 2011 by the American Academy of Pediatrics