ALLERGIC DISEASES AND ATOPY AMONG SCHOOLCHILDREN IN EASTERN CROATIA
Keywords:Hypersensitivity; Prevalence; Risk factors; Asthma; Rhinitis, allergic; Dermatitis, atopic; Cross-sectional studies; Child; Croatia
A cross-sectional study was carried out in Brod-Posavina County, Croatia, to assess the prevalence of allergic diseases and atopy, as well as to investigate the possible etiologic factors for asthma, allergic rhinitis and eczema in childhood. The study included 1687 schoolchildren aged 10-11 years. Data were collected using standardized International Study of Asthma and Allergies in Childhood (ISAAC) Phase II written questionnaire. Skin prick tests were performed to provide an objective measure of atopy, defined as skin reactivity to one or more allergens. Lifetime prevalence of wheezing was 22.7%, rhinitis symptoms 22.5%, and eczema symptoms 17.9%. Period prevalence in the past 12 months was 7.9% for attacks of wheezing, 9.9% for rhinoconjunctivitis symptoms, and 10.1% for eczema symptoms. Of the children in which skin prick test was performed, 20.2% were positive for at least one of the allergens used, with house dust mite sensitization being the most frequent one. Risk factors for allergic disease include allergic disease in the family, atopy, sensitization to indoor and outdoor allergens, and environmental tobacco smoke exposure at home. International comparison with the results of other ISAAC Phase II studies showed the Brod-Posavina County to be an area with moderate prevalence of atopy and current asthma symptoms.