Aims: To determine the prevalence of respiratory symptoms in children and to examine associations with environmental factors in the Bay of Plenty.
Methods: International Study of Asthma and Allergies in Childhood (ISAAC) questionnaires were distributed to 13-14 year old children and to care-givers of 6-7 year old children as part of the ISAAC study.
Results: Completed questionnaires were received for 2614 primary and 2752 secondary students. Analysis by district showed no consistent association with exposure to industrial emissions from paper mills, natural sulphur fumes, or climatic variation. All districts are subject to high levels of pollen. Symptom prevalence was close to the mean for New Zealand centres participating in the ISAAC survey. Night cough and nasal symptoms were more common in secondary pupils exposed to smoking in the home, but there was no consistent association between passive smoking and wheeze or diagnosed asthma. Children from larger households reported less wheezy symptoms and less diagnosed asthma.
Conclusions: There was no consistent evidence of an effect on respiratory morbidity from natural fumes, industrial air pollution, or climate. The indoor environment is probably of greater importance in this population.