Proportional Venn diagram and determinants of allergic respiratory diseases in Italian adolescents

Pediatr Allergy Immunol. 2011 Feb;22(1 Pt 1):60-8. doi: 10.1111/j.1399-3038.2010.01097.x. Epub 2010 Sep 1.


Large variations in prevalence of atopy and allergic diseases are reported worldwide in children, but in epidemiological studies the use of skin prick tests (SPT) and spirometry along with questionnaires is not common in the Mediterranean Area. The present work was aimed at evaluating the prevalence of current asthma (CA), rhinoconjunctivitis (RC), and eczema (E), with atopy and respiratory function, and the role of risk factors for allergic respiratory diseases. A total of 2150 Italian schoolchildren were cross-sectionally investigated through respiratory questionnaire, SPT, and spirometry. A proportional Venn diagram quantified the distribution of CA, RC, and E, stratifying for allergic sensitization to show differences in prevalence of allergic diseases among subjects with and without positive SPT. CA prevalence was 4.2%, RC 17.9%, and E 5.3%. CA and RC increased, while E decreased, with respect to previous local studies. Allergic sensitization prevalence (evaluated as positive response to at least one SPT) was 39.2%. A double Venn diagram identified 15 categories. Atopic CA was threefold more frequent than non-atopic CA. Atopic vs non-atopic RC and E were 9.6% vs 10.3% and 2.0% vs 3.3%, respectively. Atopic vs non-atopic RC associated with CA were 1.6% vs 0.5%; the same figures for RC associated with E were 0.8% vs 1.3%. Asymptomatic atopic subjects were 27.0%. Atopy, RC, parental asthma, and environmental risk factors were associated with CA. Atopy and environmental factors were risk factors also for RC. Asthma and traffic exposure were linked to reduced lung function. Respiratory allergic diseases are still increasing and largely concomitant in Italian adolescents. Atopy is more important for CA than RC. Avoiding exposures to measured environmental risk factors would prevent 41% of current asthma and 34% of rhinoconjunctivitis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Asthma / complications*
  • Asthma / epidemiology*
  • Child
  • Conjunctivitis, Allergic / complications
  • Conjunctivitis, Allergic / epidemiology
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Eczema / complications
  • Eczema / epidemiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hypersensitivity, Immediate / complications*
  • Hypersensitivity, Immediate / epidemiology*
  • Italy / epidemiology
  • Male
  • Prevalence
  • Respiratory Function Tests
  • Rhinitis / complications
  • Rhinitis / epidemiology
  • Risk Factors
  • Skin Tests
  • Spirometry
  • Surveys and Questionnaires