Rationale: Asthma is the most common chronic respiratory disease in Canada. The estimates of risk of developing asthma may help researchers and health planners set research agendas, predict the burden of asthma on society, and target the at-risk population for asthma prevention, management, and control.
Objectives: To estimate the lifetime risk of physician-diagnosed asthma.
Methods: All individuals aged 0-79 years living in Ontario, Canada on April 1, 1996 who had not been diagnosed with asthma were monitored for 11 years until March 31, 2007. They were censored when they were diagnosed with asthma, turned age 80 years, or died. The lifetime risk (from birth to age 79 yr) of physician-diagnosed asthma was calculated by a modified survival analysis technique. Results were stratified by sex, rurality, and neighborhood income.
Measurements and main results: Overall, the lifetime risk of physician-diagnosed asthma was 33.9%. Whereas the overall lifetime risk was higher in females (35.0 vs. 32.9%; P < 0.001), the cumulative risk was higher in males in early years. The lifetime risk was higher in individuals living in urban areas (34.5 vs. 30.1%; P < 0.001) or low-income neighborhoods (35.0% in the lowest income quintile vs. 32.2% in the highest; P < 0.001).
Conclusions: Our estimated overall lifetime risk indicates that one of every three individuals in Ontario, Canada has physician-diagnosed asthma during one's lifetime.