Increased prevalence of symptoms of rhinitis but not of asthma between 1990 and 2008 in Swedish adults: Comparisons of the ECRHS and GA2LEN surveys

Anders Bjerg*, Linda Ekerljung, Roelinde Middelveld, Sven Erik Dahlén, Bertil Forsberg, Karl Franklin, Kjell Larsson, Jan Lötvall, Inga Sif Ólafsdóttir, Kjell Torén, Bo Lundbäck, Christer Janson

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

94 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Background: The increase in asthma prevalence until 1990 has been well described. Thereafter, time trends are poorly known, due to the low number of high quality studies. The preferred method for studying time trends in prevalence is repeated surveys of similar populations. This study aimed to compare the prevalence of asthma symptoms and their major determinants, rhinitis and smoking, in Swedish young adults in 1990 and 2008. Methods: In 1990 the European Community Respiratory Health Survey (ECRHS) studied respiratory symptoms, asthma, rhinitis and smoking in a population-based sample (86% participation) in Sweden. In 2008 the same symptom questions were included in the Global Allergy and Asthma European Network (GA2LEN) survey (60% participation). Smoking questions were however differently worded. The regions (Gothenburg, Uppsala, Umeå) and age interval (20-44 years) surveyed both in 1990 (n = 8,982) and 2008 (n = 9,156) were analysed. Results: The prevalence of any wheeze last 12 months decreased from 20% to 16% (p<0.001), and the prevalence of "asthma-related symptoms" was unchanged at 7%. However, either having asthma attacks or using asthma medications increased from 6% to 8% (p<0.001), and their major risk factor, rhinitis, increased from 22% to 31%. Past and present smoking decreased. Conclusion: From 1990 to 2008 the prevalence of obstructive airway symptoms common in asthma did not increase in Swedish young adults. This supports the few available international findings suggesting the previous upward trend in asthma has recently reached a plateau. The fact that wheeze did not increase despite the significant increment in rhinitis, may at least in part be due to the decrease in smoking.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere16082
JournalPLoS ONE
Volume6
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2011

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