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.