Background: Several studies conducted during the past two decades suggested increasing trend of childhood allergic diseases in China. However, few studies have provided detailed description of geographic variation and explored risk factors of these diseases. This study investigated the pattern and risk factors of asthma, allergic rhinitis and eczema in eight metropolitan cities in China.
Methods: We conducted a cross-sectional survey during November-December 2005 in eight metropolitan cities in China. A total of 23791 children aged 6-13 years participated in this survey. Questions from the standard questionnaire of the International Study of Asthma and Allergies in Children (ISAAC) were used to examine the pattern of current asthma, allergic rhinitis and eczema. Logistic regression analyses were performed to assess the risk factors for childhood allergies.
Results: The average prevalence of childhood asthma, allergic rhinitis and eczema across the eight cities was 3.3% (95% Confidence interval (CI): 3.1%, 3.6%), 9.8% (95% CI: 9.4%, 10.2%) and 5.5% (95% CI: 5.2%, 5.8%), respectively. Factors related to lifestyle, mental health and socio-economic status were found to be associated with the prevalence of childhood allergies. These risk factors were unevenly distributed across cities and disproportionately affected the local prevalence.
Conclusions: There was apparent geographic variation of childhood allergies in China. Socio-environmental factors had strong impacts on the prevalence of childhood allergies; but these impacts differed across regions. Thus public health policies should specifically target at the local risk factors for each individual area.