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Free Content Ethnic differences in time trends in asthma prevalence in New Zealand: ISAAC Phases I and III

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SETTING: The International Study of Asthma and Allergies in Childhood (ISAAC) Phase III survey, New Zealand.

OBJECTIVE: To assess the prevalence of asthma symptoms and time trends by ethnicity between ISAAC Phase I (1992–1993) and Phase III (2001–2003).

DESIGN: Information on asthma symptoms and environmental exposures was collected in children aged 6–7 years (n = 10 873) and adolescents aged 13–14 years (n= 13 317).

RESULTS: In children, the prevalence of current wheeze was 28.5% in Māori (prevalence odds ratio [POR]= 1.49, 95%CI 1.32–1.68), and 25.2% in Pacific Islanders (POR 1.28, 95%CI 1.07–1.54) compared with 20.7% in Europeans/Pakeha. In adolescents, 29.9% of Māori (POR= 1.13, 95%CI 1.03–1.23) and 20.8% of Pacific Islanders (POR 0.74, 95%CI 0.62–0.87) experienced current wheeze compared to 28.6% of Europeans/Pakeha. Between Phases I and III, the prevalence of current wheeze increased significantly by 0.49%/year in Pacific Islanders, increased non-significantly by 0.12%/year in Māori, and decreased significantly by 0.25%/year in Europeans/Pakeha children. In adolescents, the prevalence of current wheeze increased by 0.05%/year in Pacific Islanders and decreased by 0.33%/year in Europeans/Pakeha and by 0.07%/year in Māori.

CONCLUSION: Ethnic differences in asthma symptom prevalence in New Zealand have increased. The reasons for this are unclear, but may reflect inequalities in access to health services.
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Keywords: asthma; ethnicity; prevalence; time trends

Document Type: Regular Paper

Affiliations: 1: Centre for Public Health Research, Massey University, Wellington, New Zealand 2: University of Otago, Christchurch, New Zealand 3: Department of Paediatrics, University of Auckland, Auckland, New Zealand 4: University of Otago, Wellington, New Zealand 5: Canterbury Health Laboratories, Christchurch, New Zealand 6: Whakatane Hospital, Bay of Plenty District Health Board, Whakatane, New Zealand 7: School of Population Health, The University of Auckland, Auckland, New Zealand

Publication date: 2009-06-01

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