Objective: To investigate the prevalence and severity of asthma, rhinitis, and atopic eczema in schoolchildren from the northeast of England.
Methods: We randomly selected 3,000 children from 80 schools. We used the ISAAC (International Study of Asthma and Allergies in Childhood) written questionnaire.
Results: The lifetime prevalence rates of symptoms were: rhinitis, 32.8%; wheezing, 31.3%; hay fever, 23.7%; and self-reported asthma, 22.3%. Rhinitis was reported by 53% and 61% of boys and girls with asthma, respectively. Girls 13 to 14 years of age had higher prevalence rates of asthma, rhinitis, and eczema symptoms than boys; a reverse sex ratio has been shown in this age group. Atopic eczema was reported by 32% of boys with asthma and 37% of girls with asthma.
Conclusions: The prevalence rates of reported asthma, and symptoms suggestive of asthma, were higher than those previously reported in UK children. The present study would be a suitable baseline for monitoring future trends in the prevalence and severity of asthma and allergic disorders among these children, and provides a framework for further etiologic research into the genetics, lifestyle, environmental, and medical care factors affecting these conditions.