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Prevalence of allergy, patterns of allergic sensitization and allergy risk factors in rural and urban children

Authors


Marek L. Kowalski
Department of Immunology, Rheumatology and Allergy
Medical University of Lodz
251Pomorska Str.
92-215 Lodz
Poland

Abstract

Background:  We aimed to compare the prevalence of allergic diseases and sensitization in children living in urban and rural areas and to identify potential risk/protection factors associated with allergy.

Methods:  School children 12–16 years old, from urban community (n = 201) and rural area (n = 203) were recruited. The data obtained by questionnaire were referred to doctors’ diagnosis, skin prick tests (SPTs), and serum specific and total IgE assessment.

Results:  The prevalence of allergic diseases in urban children was significantly higher as compared with rural children [asthma 16.42%vs 1.97% (P < 0.001) allergic rhinitis 38.81%vs 10.84% (P < 0.001)]. Positive SPTs to at least one allergen was found in 63.7% of urban and 22.7% rural children (P < 0.001). Significantly higher percentage of allergic rural than urban children were monosensitized or sensitized to 2–4 allergens, but almost a fourfold higher percentage of allergic urban children was found to be sensitized to five or more allergens (P < 0.0001). The history of frequent upper respiratory factor (URT) infections, antibiotic therapy, tonsiltectomy/adenoidectomy were positively associated with development of atopy and sensitization.

Conclusion:  Our findings confirm that residence of rural area is associated with a significant lower prevalence of allergic sensitization and symptoms in school children. Several risk and protective factors related to environment and style of life could be identified in both environments.

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