Is the Prevalence of Allergy Continuously Increasing?

  • Carlos E. Baena-Cagnani
  • R. Maximiliano Gómez
Part of the Allergy Frontiers book series (ALLERGY, volume 1)

Health systems and investigators worldwide have been asking themselves for many years whether the prevalence of atopic illnesses has been increasing continuously. It is mandatory to consider studies using comparable methods to validate these results.

The Aberdeen study considered the presence of asthma diagnosis, wheezing, eczema, and rhinitis between the decades of 1960 and 1990, showing a significant increase in all of them, not attributable to a diagnosis fashion but to a truly change in prevalence, using the same methodology in two time points in 25 years [1]. In this population and throughout these years, the proportion of wheezing increased from 10% to almost double, diagnosis of asthma from 4% to 10%, rhinitis from 3% to almost four times, and eczema from 5% to more than double. All these variables increased particularly noticeable in boys.


Allergic Rhinitis Fluticasone Propionate Allergy Clin Immunol Respir Crit House Dust Mite 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. 1.
    Ninan TK, Russell G (1992) Respiratory symptoms and atopy in Aberdeen schoolchildren: evidence from two surveys 25 years apart. Br Med J 304(6831):873–875Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Haahtela T, Lindholm H, Bjorkstén F, et al. (1990) Prevalence of asthma in Finnish young men. Br Med J 301:266–268Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Anderson HR, Gupta R, Strachan DP, et al. (2007) 50 years of asthma: UK trends from 1955 to 2004. Thorax 62:85–90PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. 4.
    Butland BK, Strachan DP, Crawley-Boevey EE, et al. (2006) Childhood asthma in South London: trends in prevalence and use of medical services 1991–2002. Thorax 61:383–387CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. 5.
    Wilson DH, Adams RJ, Tucker G, et al. (2006) Trends in asthma prevalence and population changes in South Australia, 1990–2003. Med J Aust 184(5):226–229PubMedGoogle Scholar
  6. 6.
    Faniran AO, Peat JK, Woolcock AJ (1999) Prevalence of atopy, asthma symptoms and diagnosis, and the management of asthma: comparison of an affluent and a non-affluent country. Thorax 54:606–610PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. 7.
    Aït-Khaled N, Odhiambo J, Pearce N, et al. (2007) Prevalence of symptoms of asthma, rhinitis and eczema in 13 to 14 year old children in Africa: the international study of asthma and allergies in childhood phase III. Allergy 62:247–258PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. 8.
    Mallol J (2004) Asthma among children in Latin America. Allergol Immunopathol 32(3):100–103CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. 9.
    Zaman K, Takeuchi H, Yunus M, et al. (2007) Asthma in rural Bangladeshi children. Indian J Pediatr 74(6):539–543PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. 10.
    Solé D, Melo KC, Camelo-Nunes IC, et al. (2007) Changes in the prevalence of asthma and allergic diseases among Brazilian schoolchildren (13–14 years old): comparison between ISAAC phases one and three. J Trop Pediatr 53(1):13–21PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. 11.
    Grize L, Gassner M, Wuthrich B, et al. (2006) Trends in prevalence of asthma, allergic rhinitis and atopic dermatitis in 5–7 year old Swiss children from 1992 to 2001. Allergy 61(5):556–562PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. 12.
    Osman M, Tagiyeva N, Wassall HJ, et al. (2007) Changing trends in sex specific prevalence rates for childhood asthma, eczema and hay fever. Pediatr Pulmonol 42(1):60–65PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. 13.
    Galassi C, De Sario M, Biggeri A, et al. (2006) Changes in prevalence of asthma and allergies among children and adolescents in Italy: 1994–2002. Pediatrics 117(1):34–42PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. 14.
    Bjorksten B, Clayton T, Ellwood P, et al. (2007) Worldwide time trends for symptoms of rhinitis and conjunctivitis: phase III of the international study of asthma and allergies in childhood. Pediatr Allergy Immunol 19(2):110–124PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. 15.
    Linneberg A, Gislum M, Johansen N, et al. (2007) Temporal trends of aeroallergen sensitiza-tion over twenty-five years. Clin Exp Allergy 37(8):1137–1142PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. 16.
    Asher MI, Montefort S, Bjorkstén B, et al. (2006) Worldwide time trends in the prevalence of symptoms of asthma, allergic rhinoconjunctivitis, and eczema in childhood: ISAAC phases one and three repeat multicountry cross-sectional surveys. Lancet 368:733–743PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. 17.
    Sears ME, Burrows B, Flannery EM, et al. (1993) Atopy in childhood: I. Gender and allergen related risks for development of hay fever and asthma. Clin Exp Allergy 23(11):941–948PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. 18.
    Menezes AM, Hallal PC, Muiño A, et al. (2007) Risk factors for wheezing in early adolescence: a prospective birth cohort study in Brazil. Ann Allergy Asthma Immunol 98(5):427–431PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. 19.
    Goksor E, Amark M, Alm B, et al. (2006) Asthma symptoms in early childhood: what happens then? Acta Paediatr 95:471–478PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. 20.
    Sekerel BE, Civelek E, Karabulut E, et al. (2006) Are risk factors of childhood asthma predicting disease persistence in early adulthood different in the developing world? Allergy 61(7):869–877PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. 21.
    Osman M, Hansel AM, Simpson CR, et al. (2007) Gender-specific presentations for asthma, allergic rhinitis and eczema in primary care. Prim Care Respir J 16(1):28–35PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. 22.
    Osman M (2003) Therapeutic implications of sex differences in asthma and atopy. Arch Dis Child 88(7):587–590PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. 23.
    Garcia-Marcos L, Canflanca IM, Batlles Garrido J, et al. (2007) Relationship of asthma and rhinoconjunctivitis with obesity, exercise and Mediterranean diet in Spanish schoolchildren. Thorax 62:503–508PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. 24.
    Wickens K, Barry D, Friezema A, et al. (2005) Fast foods: are they a risk factor for asthma? Allergy 60(12):1537–1541PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. 25.
    Black PN, Sharpe S (1997) Dietary fat and asthma: is there a connection? Eur Respir J 10:6–12PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. 26.
    Dunstan JA, Mori TA, Barden A, et al. (2003) Fish oil supplementation in pregnancy modifies neonatal allergen-specific immune responses and clinical outcomes in infants at high risk of atopy: a randomized, controlled trial. J Allergy Clin Immunol 112:1178–1184PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. 27.
    Devereux G, Seaton A (2005) Diet as a risk factor for atopy and asthma. J Allergy Clin Immunol 115:1109–1117PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. 28.
    The Practical Guide: Identification, Evaluation and Treatment of Overweight and Obesity in Adults. Accessed on Sep 08, 2008.
  29. 29.
    Schachter LM, Peat JK, Salome CM (2003) Asthma and atopy in overweight children. Thorax 58:1031–1035PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. 30.
    Beuther BA, Sutherland ER (2007) Overweight, obesity, and incident asthma: a meta-analysis of prospective epidemiologic studies. Am J Respir Crit Care Med 175:661–666PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. 31.
    Flaherman V, Rutherford GW (2006) A meta-analysis of the effect of high weight on asthma. Arch Dis Child 91:334–339PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. 32.
    Boezen HM, van der Zee SC, Postma DS, et al. (1999) Effects of ambient air pollution on upper and lower respiratory symptoms and peak expiratory flow in children. Lancet 353(9156):859–860CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. 33.
    Sun HL, Chou MC, Lue KH (2006) The relationship of air pollution to ED visits for asthma differ between children and adults. Am J Emerg Med 24(6):709–713PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. 34.
    Martinez GJ, Sancho ML, Baena-Cagnani CE, et al. (2003) Relationships between consultations due to respiratory diseases in children and levels of air pollution of PM10 and CO in the city of Córdoba. Arch Alerg Inmunol Clin 34(3):81–88Google Scholar
  35. 35.
    Diaz-Sanchez D, Proietti L, Polosa R (2003) Diesel fumes and the rising prevalence of atopy: an urban legend? Curr Allergy Asthma Rep 3(2):146–152PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. 36.
    Heinrich J, Wichmann HE (2004) Traffic related pollutants in Europe and their effect on allergic disease. Curr Opin Allergy Clin Immunol 4(5):341–348PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. 37.
    Thomson NC (2007) The role of environmental tobacco smoke in the origins and progression of asthma. Curr Allergy Asthma Rep 7(4):303–309PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. 38.
    Gilliland FD, Islam T, Berhane K, et al. (2006) Regular smoking and asthma incidence in adolescents. Am J Respir Crit Care Med 174(10):1094–1100CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. 39.
    Andersson E, Knutsson A, Hagberg S, et al. (2006) Incidence of asthma among workers exposed to sulphur dioxide and other irritant gases. Eur Respir J 27(4):720–725PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. 40.
    Delclos GL, Gimeno D, Arif AA, et al. (2007) Occupational risk factors and asthma among health care professionals. Am J Respir Crit Care Med 175:667–675PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. 41.
    Strachan DP (1989) Hay fever, hygiene, and house hold size. BMJ 299:1259–1260PubMedGoogle Scholar
  42. 42.
    Seiskari T, Kondrashova A, Viskari H, et al. (2007) Allergic sensitization and microbial load: a comparison between Finland and Russian Karelia. Clin Exp Immunol 148(1):47–52PubMedGoogle Scholar
  43. 43.
    Perkin MR, Strachan DP (2006) Which aspects of the farming lifestyle explain the inverse association with childhood allergy? J Allergy Clin Immunol 117(6):1374–1381PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. 44.
    Strachan DP (2000) Family size, infection and atopy: the first decade of the “hygiene hypothesis”. Thorax 55:2–10CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. 45.
    Gore C, Custovic A (2004) Protective parasites and medicinal microbes? The case for the hygiene hypothesis. Prim Care Respir J 113:68–75CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. 46.
    Rottem M, Szyper-Kravitz M, Shoenfeld Y (2005) Atopy and asthma in migrants. Int Arch Allergy Immunol 136(2):198–204PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. 47.
    Arshad SH, Tarig SM, Matthews S, et al. (2001) Sensitization to common allergens and its association with allergic disorders at age 4 years: a whole population birth cohort study. Pediatrics 108(2):E33PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. 48.
    Garcia-Marcos L, Garcia-Hernandez G, Morales Suarez-Varela M, et al. (2007) Asthma attributable to atopy: does it depend on the allergen supply? Pediatr Allergy Immunol 18(3):181–187PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. 49.
    Oddy WH, de Klerk NH, Sly PD, et al. (2002) The effects of respiratory infections, atopy and breastfeeding on childhood asthma. Eur Respir J 19:899–905PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. 50.
    Hasan Arshad S, Kurukulaaratchy RJ, Fenn M, et al. (2005) Early life risk factors for current wheeze, asthma, and bronchial hyperresponsiveness at 10 years of age. Chest 127:502–508CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. 51.
    Bodtger U (2004) Prognostic value of asymptomatic skin sensitization to aeroallergens. Curr Opin Allergy Clin Immunol 4(1):5–10PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. 52.
    Arruda LK, Solé D, Baena-Cagnani CE, et al. (2005) Risk factors for asthma and atopy. Curr Opin Allergy Clin Immunol 5(2):153–159PubMedGoogle Scholar
  53. 53.
    Reed CE (2006) The natural history of asthma. J Allergy Clin Immunol 118:543–548PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. 54.
    Taussig LM, Wright AL, Holberg CJ, et al. (2003) Tucson Children's Respiratory Study: 1980 to present. J Allergy Clin Immunol 111:661–675PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. 55.
    Rhodes HL, Thomas P, Sporik R, et al. (2002) A birth cohort study of subjects at risk of atopy: twenty two year follow up of wheeze and atopic status. Am J Respir Crit Care Med 165:176–180PubMedGoogle Scholar
  56. 56.
    Robertson CF (2002) Long-term outcome of childhood asthma. Med J Aust 16(177 suppl):S42–S44Google Scholar
  57. 57.
    Spergel JM (2005) Atopic march: link to upper airway. Curr Opin Allergy Clin Immunol 5(1):17–21PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. 58.
    Hahn EL, Bacharier LB (2005) The atopic march: the pattern of allergic disease development in childhood. Immunol Allergy Clin North Am 25(2):231–246PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. 59.
    Kramer MS, Kakuma R (2006) Maternal dietary antigen avoidance during pregnancy or lactation, or both, for preventing or treating atopic disease in the child. Cochrane Database Syst Rev 3:CD000133PubMedGoogle Scholar
  60. 60.
    Arshad SH (2005) Primary prevention of asthma and allergy. J Allergy Clin Immunol 116(1):3–14PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  61. 61.
    Zutavern A, Brockow I, Schaaf B, et al. (2006) Timing of solid food introduction in relation to atopic dermatitis and atopic sensitization: results from a prospective birth cohort studies. Pediatrics 117:401–411PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  62. 62.
    Corren J (2007) The connection between allergic rhinitis and bronchial asthma. Curr Opin Pulm Med 13(1):13–18PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  63. 63.
    Castro-Rodriguez JA, Holberg CJ, Wright AL, et al. (2000) A clinical index to define risk of asthma in young children with recurrent wheezing. Am J Respir Crit Care Med 162(4 Pt 1):1403–1406PubMedGoogle Scholar
  64. 64.
    Global Initiative for Asthma (GINA). http// Accessed on Sep 08, 2008.
  65. 65.
    Canadian Asthma Consensus Guidelines. Accessed on Sep 08, 2008
  66. 66.
    National Asthma Education and Prevention Program (NHLBI–NIH). Accessed on Sep 08, 2008
  67. 67.
    Odajima Y, Kuwabara H (2006) Inhaled corticosteroids use and asthma hospitalization rates in Japan. J Int Med Res 34(2):208–214PubMedGoogle Scholar
  68. 68.
    Neffen H, Baena-Cagnani C, Passalaqua G, et al. (2006) Asthma mortality, inhaled steroids, and changing asthma therapy in Argentina (1990–1999). Respir Med 100(8):1431–1435PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  69. 69.
    Bisgaard H, Hermansen MN, Loland L, et al. (2006) Intermittent inhaled corticoids in infants with episodic wheezing. N Engl J Med 354(19):1998–2005PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  70. 70.
    Guilbert TW, Morgan WI, Zeiger RS, et al. (2006) Long-term inhaled corticosteroids in preschool children at high risk for asthma. N Engl J Med 354(19):1985–1997PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  71. 71.
    Murray C, Woodcock A, Langley S, et al. (2006) IFWIN Study Team: secondary prevention of asthma by the use of Inhaled Fluticasone propionate in Wheezy INfants (IFWIN): double-blind, randomized, controlled study. Lancet 368(9537):754–762PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  72. 72.
    Boushey HA, Sorkness CA, King TS, et al. (2005) Daily versus as-needed corticosteroids for mild persistent asthma. N Engl J Med 352(15):1519–1528PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  73. 73.
    O'Byrne PM (2005) Daily inhaled corticosteroid treatment should not be prescribed for mild persistent asthma. Pro Am J Respir Crit Care Med 172(4):410–412; discussion 415–416CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  74. 74.
    Boushey HA (2005) Daily inhaled corticosteroid treatment should not be prescribed for mild persistent asthma. Con Am J Respir Crit Care Med 172(4):412–414; discussion 414–415CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  75. 75.
    Sheikh A, Hurwitz B, Shehata Y (2007) House dust mites avoidance measures for perennial allergic rhinitis. Cochrane Database Syst Rev 1:CD001563PubMedGoogle Scholar
  76. 76.
    Finegold I (2007) Allergen immunotherapy: present and future. Allergy Asthma Proc 28(1):44–49PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  77. 77.
    Baena-Cagnani CE, Passalaqua G, Baena-Cagnani RC, et al. (2005) Sublingual immuno-therapy in paediatric patients: beyond clinical efficacy. Curr Opin Allergy Clin Immunol 5(2):173–177PubMedGoogle Scholar
  78. 78.
    Danov Z, Guilbert TW (2007) Prevention of asthma in childhood. Curr Opin Allergy Clin Immunol 7(2):174–179PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Carlos E. Baena-Cagnani
    • 1
  • R. Maximiliano Gómez
    • 2
  1. 1.Faculty of MedicineCatholic University of CordobaCordobaArgentina
  2. 2.Allergy and Asthma UnitHospital San BernardoSaltaArgentina

Personalised recommendations