Purpose: To describe the use of anti-asthma drugs in children in the general population and in children with asthma using data from two large surveys in Germany.
Methods: Community-based random sample of 5-7 and 9-11-year-old children in Dresden and Munich were studied in 1995/96 by parental questionnaires using the Phase II protocol of the International Study of Asthma and Allergies in Childhood (ISAAC). A total of 11,094 children participated in the surveys (response rate 83%).
Results: In all children, inhaled beta 2-agonists were used most frequently during the last 12 months (2.6%), followed by inhaled cromolyns (2.5%), oral beta 2-agonists (1.5%), and inhaled steroids (0.9%). Drug use was significantly higher among boys than girls and in older children compared to younger ones (P < 0.05 for both). Among children with current asthma, 47% had used inhaled beta 2-agonists, 43% inhaled cromolyns, 22% oral beta 2-agonists, and 16% inhaled steroids. Inhaled steroids were used significantly more often in Dresden (21.7%) than in Munich (11.2%) (P < 0.05).
Conclusions: Among anti-asthma drugs, agents used for symptomatic relief were the most frequently reported followed by inhaled anti-inflammatory agents. Most of the anti-inflammatory drugs used were SCG, which may indicate under-treatment with inhaled steroids.