Asthma among school children in the Barwon region of Victoria

Med J Aust. 2007 Aug 20;187(4):221-4. doi: 10.5694/j.1326-5377.2007.tb01203.x.


Objectives: To determine (i) the relationship between asthma management and socioeconomic status; (ii) whether recent estimates from the International Study of Asthma and Allergies in Childhood (ISAAC) conducted in Melbourne apply to a broader cross-section of Victorian children; and (iii) age-related trends in asthma prevalence.

Design: A questionnaire survey, based on the ISAAC protocol.

Participants and setting: Subjects were children aged 4-13 years from a random sample of primary schools in the Barwon region of Victoria. The survey was conducted between March and September 2005.

Main outcome measures: Parent-reported wheeze and wheeze-related use of health resources during the preceding 12 months.

Results: Questionnaires were returned by 7813/9258 students (84%). Lower socioeconomic status was associated with increased frequency of regular asthma reviews (P < 0.01 for trend), but not of emergency department visits (P = 0.19). The prevalence of wheeze among 6- and 7-year-old children in the Barwon region was similar to that in Melbourne children (20.2% v 20.0%, respectively). There was an age-related increase in the proportion of children with > or = 12 episodes of wheeze (P = 0.01); but an age-related decrease in emergency department visits (P = 0.02).

Conclusions: Disadvantaged children have good access to regular asthma reviews and are no more likely to attend an emergency department with an episode of acute wheeze. Asthma prevalence in 6- and 7-year-old children in the Barwon region is similar to that in Melbourne. The prevalence of children with very frequent wheeze increases with age, but their use of health resources decreases.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Age Factors
  • Asthma / epidemiology*
  • Asthma / therapy*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Emergency Service, Hospital / statistics & numerical data
  • Female
  • Health Resources / statistics & numerical data
  • Health Surveys
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Prevalence
  • Social Class*
  • Victoria / epidemiology