• asthma;
  • cross-sectional study;
  • ISAAC;
  • prevalence;
  • trends

Background:  Asthma is a common chronic illness in childhood. The aim of the study was to examine time trends in the prevalence of asthma using the ISAAC questionnaire in 6- to 12-year-old schoolchildren in Istanbul and factors affecting asthma prevalence.

Methods:  Two cross-sectional surveys were performed, 9 years apart (1995 and 2004) using the ISAAC protocol. The survey conducted in 1995 was repeated in 2004 using the same questionnaire in the same age group, in the same schools in the same season. The 2500 questionnaires were distributed to the children to be completed by their parents at home.

Results:  A total of 2387 children (response rate 95.5%) in the 2004 study and 2216 children (response rate 94.3%) in 1995 were included in the final analysis. The overall lifetime prevalence of wheeze increased from 15.1% to 25.3%; prevalence odds ratio (POR) = 1.91, 95% confidence interval (95% CI) = 1.64–2.21, and P < 0.001. The overall 12-month prevalence of wheeze increased from 8.2% to 11.3%; POR = 1.43, 95% CI = 1.18–1.75, and P < 0.001. The prevalence of asthma increased significantly from 9.8% to 17.8%; POR = 1.99, 95% CI = 1.67–2.36, and P < 0.001. In both 1995 and 2004, family history of asthma, eczema diagnosed by a physician, food allergy diagnosed by a physician, frequent otitis, frequent sinusitis were associated significantly with high risk for asthma.

Conclusions:  In the 9-year period from 1995 to 2004, the prevalence of asthma symptoms has increased in 6- to 12-year-old schoolchildren in Istanbul. Risk factors affecting asthma prevalence remained unchanged during the 9-year period.