Background: Rhinoconjunctivitis (RC) is regarded as the most common chronic disease of childhood; however, the currently available epidemiological studies on prevalence, burden, and risk factors of RC are insufficient. This analysis aimed to investigate potential risk factors, symptom frequency, and burden of RC.
Methods: Using the International Study of Asthma and Allergies in Childhood Phase II questionnaires, 6963 elementary school children aged 9-11 years were surveyed in five different city centers of Turkey. All participants were skin-prick tested with common aeroallergens.
Results: The prevalence of ever rhinitis, physician-diagnosed rhinitis, current rhinitis, and current RC were 51.6, 31.0, 43.5, and 23.1%, respectively; 19.8% of children with RC symptoms were atopic to at least one allergen. Among students with RC symptoms, 42.2, 23.9, 35.8, and 28.2% reported moderate-severe interference of daily activities, at least 1 day of absence from school, visit to a health care professional, and any drug usage for rhinitis, respectively. Nasal decongestants and oral antihistamines were the most frequently used treatment. Approximately 70% of RC patients reported perennial symptoms and 42.8% were classified as mild to intermittent. Multivariate logistic regression analysis revealed family history of asthma and/or allergic rhinitis (odds ratio [OR] = 1.863; confidence interval, [CI] = 1.583-2.191; p < 0.001), living in a house with mold and dampness in the 1st year of life (OR = 1.651; CI = 1.356-2.01; p < 0.001), maternal smoking in pregnancy (OR = 1.425; CI = 1.089-1.864; p = 0.011), low monthly income (OR = 1.685; CI = 1.422-1.998; p = 0.001), current wheezing (OR = 2.543; CI = 2.151-3.006; p = 0.001), and current atopic eczema (OR = 2.503; CI = 1.96-3.196; p = 0.001) as significant risk factors for current RC.
Conclusion: Along with the high prevalence of RC in childhood, underdiagnosis and undertreatment of the disease are also frequent. The socioeconomic burden of the disease can be reduced by increasing awareness and proper diagnosis/treatment.