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Clinical & Experimental Allergy

Atopy and allergic disorders among adults in Tartu, Estonia compared with Uppsala, Sweden

Authors


Dr Jõgi Lung Clinic, Tartu University, Riia Str. 167, EE 2400 Tartu, Estonia.

Abstract

Background

Recent studies in children and adults indicate that the prevalence of atopy and allergic disorders is lower in previously socialist countries in Eastern Europe compared with countries with a market economy while revealed risk factors are similar.

Objectives

To estimate the prevalence of atopy among adults in Tartu, Estonia and to compare the prevalence of risk factors for atopy and allergic respiratory diseases in Estonia and Sweden.

Methods

As a part of cross-sectional study—European Community Respiratory Health Survey—random samples of 20–44 year olds (n = 351 in Tartu and n = 470 in Uppsala) and persons of the same age with asthma like symptoms or on current asthma medication according to a postal questionnaire (n = 95 in Tartu and n = 201 in Uppsala) were interviewed and circulating IgE antibodies were measured.

Results

The prevalence of atopy was 19% in Tartu and 32% in Uppsala (P < 0.001). The prevalence of sensitization to pollen was twice lower (11.5 vs 23.2; P < 0.001) and the prevalence of pollen associated asthma symptoms was four times lower (1.7 vs 6.8; P < 0.001) in Tartu than in Uppsala while sensitization to pollen was an equally large risk factor for asthma in both centres. Age was inversely related to cat and pollen associated symptoms of rhinoconjunctivitis in Uppsala (OR 0.6 and 0.7, respectively, P < 0.05) but not in Tartu.

Conclusions

The prevalence of atopy was lower in Tartu, Estonia than in Uppsala Sweden. Perception of allergic disorders seemed to be lower in Tartu than in Uppsala. Age did not influence the prevalence of atopy nor allergic disorders in Tartu, while in Uppsala age was inversely related to clinical allergy. This could suggest a cohort effect underlying the increasing prevalence of allergy in Western Europe.

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