Objective: To assess time trends in symptoms of asthma, allergic rhinitis, and atopic eczema among children in Münster, Germany.
Methods: Two cross-sectional surveys 5-years apart (1994/1995, 1999/2000) using ISAAC core written and video questionnaires and applying the ISAAC protocol. Two main age groups (6-7 and 13-14 year olds) were designated with information collected by parental and self-report for both age groups, respectively. A school-based sample of 7744 participants in the 1994/1995 survey and 7962 participants in the 1999/2000 survey was recruited. In the first and second surveys, response rates for the 6-7 year olds were 81 and 82%, respectively, while for the 13-14 year olds response rates were 94% in both. Analyses focus on the change in 12-month prevalence of symptoms of asthma, rhinitis, and eczema.
Results: There is a tendency towards an increase in current symptoms for all three conditions and in both age groups, but more so among girls. Indices of diagnosis either remained the same or increased in parallel to the increase in symptoms. Indices of severity also showed a homogenous increase in the 5-year study period.
Conclusions: Our study shows that symptoms of asthma, rhinitis, and eczema are increasing, reflecting a change in the morbidity of these conditions in our population.