BACKGROUND: The International Study of Asthma and Allergies in Childhood (ISAAC) identified trends in the prevalence of symptoms of asthma, rhinoconjunctivitis and eczema over a seven-year period. We hypothesised that environmental influences on the three diseases are different and therefore investigated the correlation over time between trends in the prevalence of these diseases and their combinations at centre and individual level.
METHODS: Centre level analyses were correlations between time trends in the prevalence of symptoms. At an individual level, odds ratios were calculated for associations between symptoms between Phases One and Three. We also investigated potential effect modification in the younger versus older age group; male versus female; and by average Gross National Income per capita (GNI).
RESULTS: Both phases were completed in 66 centres in 37 countries for the 6-7 year age group and in 106 centres in 56 countries for the 13-14 year age group. We found that the correlations in time trends were stronger for the older age group than the younger one. Between symptoms of diseases, correlations of time trends were the strongest for rhinoconjunctivitis with eczema and weakest for eczema with asthma. The relationship between the three diseases was generally consistent over the seven-year period, and there was little association found with average GNI.
CONCLUSIONS: Despite some increase in the proportion of children with symptoms of asthma, rhinoconjunctivitis and eczema, the pattern between the three diseases has not changed much, suggesting that similar factors may be affecting them at a global level.
Cord IgE and ECP levels are major atopic markers implicated in early childhood allergy development. Most epidemiological studies to date have not utilised current technology to establish baseline cord IgE levels, further aggravated by lack of data in this region. This study also attempts to identify a relationship between cord IgE and ECP levels as a mean to improve sensitivity for early prediction of atopy.