[Increased proportion of elementary school children with asthmatic symptoms in the Netherlands, 1984/85-1994/95; a literature review]

Author(s): van der Wal MF, Uitenbroek DG, Verhoeff AP

Abstract

Objective:To investigate whether the prevalence of asthmatic symptoms among children in the Netherlands has changed.

Design:Literature study.

Method:Investigations into the prevalence of children with asthmatic symptoms were collected from Medline, Embase and various libraries if they had been performed between 1984/'85 and 1994/'95 and had used the so-called WHO or Region list. 23 studies were selected with data on 76,353 elementary school pupils. Linear regression analysis, weighed for the number of children, was used to determine if the proportions of children with asthmatic symptoms had increased over the years.

Results:In 10 years the prevalence of recent shortness of breath had increased by 107% (from 4.16 to 8.63%), that of recent wheeze by 16% (from 10.64 to 12.35%), that of recent attacks of breathlessness with wheezing by 17% (from 5.29 to 6.19%), and for chronic cough by 259 (from 1.05 to 3.77%) to 272% (from 3.14 to 11.68%). The prevalence of doctor-diagnosed asthma had increased by 120% (from 2.82 to 6.19%).

Conclusion:There had been a pronounced increase in the percentage of primary schoolchildren with asthmatic symptoms between 1984/'85 and 1994/'95. The prevalence of doctor-diagnosed asthma increased faster then did key symptoms of asthma.

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