Prevalence of asthma: a comparative study of urban and rural Xhosa children


Dr E. G. Weinberg, Allergy Clinic, Red Cross Memorial Children's Hospital and Institute of Child Health, University of Cape Town, Rondebosch 7700 Cape, South Africa.


An epidemiological study was undertaken to determine the prevalence of asthma in young urban and rural black (Xhosa) children. One thousand three hundred and seventy five children were studied, 694 from a Cape Town african township and 671 from a rural area in Transkei. The exercise tolerance test which required free range running at maximum effort for 6 min was used to identify asthmatic subjects. A fall of 15% or more in the post-exercise FEV1 and PEFR values was regarded as a positive result. Twenty-three children were found to be asthmatic, twenty-two from the city area, but only one from the country, giving a prevalence figure for asthma of 3.17% in the first group and 0.14% for the second. Possible reasons for these differences are discussed.

The exercise tolerance test was found to be a useful tool for epidemiological studies of asthma.