Incidence and remission of asthma in schoolchildren: report from the obstructive lung disease in northern Sweden studies

Pediatrics. 2001 Mar;107(3):E37. doi: 10.1542/peds.107.3.e37.


Objective: An increasing prevalence of asthma has been reported worldwide as well as in Sweden. In 1996, the prevalence of asthma and type 1 allergy was investigated in a cohort of 3525 children 7 and 8 years old in 3 areas of northern Sweden. The aim of the present study was to estimate the incidence of asthma and to identify risk factors for incident cases over 1 year.

Methods: The study started with a parental questionnaire, the International Study of Asthma and Allergies in Childhood questionnaire with additional questions, a skin prick test, and a validation study. The cohort was followed up after 1 year with the same questions. The response rate to the questionnaire was 97% in 1996, and 3339 children (97%) participated both in 1996 and 1997.

Results: The incidence of physician-diagnosed asthma was 0.9/100/year; of wheezing, 3.8/100/year; and of new frequent or daily users of asthma medicines, 1.1/100/year. There was no difference by sex. The risk factor pattern based on incident cases of asthma was different from that based on prevalent cases. Significant risk factors for incident asthma were a positive skin test (odds ratio [OR]: 9.3; 95% confidence interval [CI]: 3.8-22.7); low birth weight (OR: 7.4; 95% CI: 2.2-24.5); and family history of asthma (OR: 2.6; 95% CI: 1.1-6.3). Having or having had pets at home was associated with a decreased risk for asthma and wheezing based on prevalent cases, although it was associated with an increased risk for incidence of wheezing (OR: 2.9; 95% CI: 1.3-6.2). Remission of asthma, which was reported by 10% of the children with current asthma during 1 year, was associated with a negative skin test.

Conclusion: The incidence of asthma at the age of 8 years was high, but remission was also common. Important risk factors for the development of asthma at this age were type 1 allergy, low birth weight, and family history of asthma. Furthermore, the results suggest that in a region where sensitivity to domestic animals is a strong risk factor for asthma, the presence of pets in the home may have different effects in early childhood compared with later in childhood.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Asthma / epidemiology*
  • Child
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hypersensitivity / epidemiology
  • Incidence
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Prevalence
  • Remission, Spontaneous
  • Risk Factors
  • Sweden / epidemiology