Aims: To investigate for the first time the short-term effects of airborne pollen counts on general practitioner (GP) consultations for asthma attacks in the Greater Paris area between 2003-2007.
Methods: Counts were available for common pollens (Betula, Cupressa, Fraxinus and Poaceae). Weekly data on GP visits for asthma attacks were obtained from the French GP Sentinel Network. A quasi-Poisson regression with generalised additive models was implemented. Short-term effects of pollen counts were assessed using single and multi-pollen models after adjustment for air pollution and influenza.
Results: A mean weekly incidence rate of 25.4 cases of asthma attacks per 100,000 inhabitants was estimated during the study period. The strongest significant association between asthma attacks and pollen counts was registered for grass (Poaceae) in the same week of asthma attacks, with a slight reduction of the effect observed in the multi-pollen model. Adjusted relative risk for Poaceae was 1.54 (95% CI: 1.33-1.79) with an inter-quartile range increase of 17.6 grains/m3 during the pollen season.
Conclusions: For the first time, a significant short-term association was observed between Poaceae pollen counts and consultations for asthma attacks as seen by GPs. These findings need to be confirmed by more consistent time-series and investigations on a daily basis.