Objective: As in other English-speaking countries, asthma is a major and increasing health problem in New Zealand. This study examined the risk factors for asthma in children aged 7-9.
Methods: Cases and controls were randomly selected from participants in the Wellington arm of the International Study of Asthma and Allergies in Childhood (ISAAC). Cases were children with a previous diagnosis of asthma and current medication use (n=233), and controls were children with no history of wheezing and no diagnosis of asthma (n=241).
Results: After controlling for confounders, factors significantly associated with asthma were maternal (OR=3.36, 95% CI 1.88-5.99) and paternal asthma (OR-2.67, 95% CI 1.42-5.02), and male sex (OR=1.81, 95% CI 1.17-2.81). Children from social classes 5 and 6 or with unemployed parents (OR=2.32, 95% CI 1.22-4.44) were significantly more likely to have asthma than children in social classes 1 and 2. There was no significant association between having polio vaccination (OR=2.48, 95% CI 0.83-7.41), hepatitis B vaccination (OR=0.66, 95% CI 0.42-1.04) or measles/mumps/rubella vaccination (OR=1.43, 95% CI 0.85-2.41) and asthma.
Conclusions: This study has confirmed the associations of family history and lower socio-economic status with current asthma in 7-9 year old children. The role of vaccinations requires further research.