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Relationship between atopic asthma and the population prevalence rates for asthma or atopy in children: Atopic and nonatopic asthma in epidemiology

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Innumerable articles have tried to solve the “continuing enigma of atopic and nonatopic asthma” but notwithstanding the strenuous efforts to substantiate the few well-known clinico-epidemiologic differences between these two forms of asthma most studies have hitherto generated inconclusive statements. In a recent study based on the review of epidemiologic studies conducted worldwide in unselected populations of children, we documented that the prevalence of atopic asthma (AA) was high in the populations with a high prevalence of atopy. We systematically reviewed 36 articles that studied 48 populations of unselected children and reported prevalence rates for asthma and atopy in the total sample and in the subpopulations. No significant difference was found in the prevalence of asthma cases in the quartiles of childhood populations subdivided for the prevalence of atopy. In addition, atopy did not increase significantly in the subgroups of populations subdivided by asthma quartiles. In both subgroups, however, AA increased with increasing atopy or with increasing asthma (p < 0.001). Using a positive skin-prick test reaction to define cases of asthma as cases of AA is misleading because the prevalence of subjects so defined is heavily influenced by the environmentally generated changes in the prevalence of atopy or asthma. Asthma in a child should be labeled as a case of AA only if skin-prick tests yield a positive reaction and the clinical history documents asthma symptoms triggered by allergen exposure.

Keywords: Allergy; asthma; atopic asthma; atopy; children; nonatopic asthma; population; prevalence

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Department of Pediatrics, 2nd School of Medicine, University "La Sapienza," Rome, Italy

Publication date: January 1, 2009

More about this publication?
  • Allergy and Asthma Proceedings is a peer reviewed publication dedicated to distributing timely scientific research regarding advancements in the knowledge and practice of allergy, asthma and immunology. Its primary readership consists of allergists and pulmonologists.

    The goal of the Proceedings is to publish articles with a predominantly clinical focus which directly impact quality of care for patients with allergic disease and asthma.

    Featured topics include asthma, rhinitis, sinusitis, food allergies, allergic skin diseases, diagnostic techniques, allergens, and treatment modalities. Published material includes peer-reviewed original research, clinical trials and review articles.

    Articles marked "F" offer free full text for personal noncommercial use only.

    The journal is indexed in Thomson Reuters Web of Science and Science Citation Index Expanded, plus the National Library of Medicine's PubMed service.
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