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Summary

Twenty-one asthmatic and twenty-two non-asthmatic children and nine asthmatic adults from two different rural areas of Tanzania, and eight asthmatic children from Dar-es-Salaam were surveyed by questionnaires, skin testing and the measurement of serum IgE. Asthma was significantly commoner in female rural children (four males, fifteen females). The rural asthmatic children apparently had less skin reactivity (in seven of nine tests) and lower specific (in two of four tests) and total serum IgE than age-, sex- and village-matched controls. This pattern of asthma in rural children in the tropics represents a different type of asthma from that found in temperate zones. In contrast, the adult rural asthmatics and the urban children seemed to have the pattern of increased skin reactivity and serum IgE found in asthmatic patients from temperate climates.