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Ther Umsch. 2001 May;58(5):253-8.

[Epidemiology of allergies in Switzerland].

[Article in German]

Author information

  • 1Allergiestation, Dermatologische Universitätsklinik, Zürich. wuethric@derm.unizh.ch


The Swiss Study on Air Pollution and Lung Diseases in Adults (SAPALDIA) was carried out during 1991-1993 in eight Swiss areas with different environmental characteristics. The cross-sectional examination included 9651 adults, aged 18-60 years, who all participated in a detailed interview. In 8357 subjects complete allergy skin and in-vitro tests were available in addition. The prevalence of atopic sensitization (positive skin prick test to any of the tested inhalant allergens and/or a positive Phadiatop as an in-vitro screening test for atopy) was 32.3%, with a higher prevalence in males (35.7%) than in females (28.8%). Skin sensitization was predominantly caused by grass pollen (12.7%), followed by house dust mite (8.9%), silver birch pollen (7.9%) and cat epithelia (3.8%). 11.1% suffered from current hay fever, 6.8% from asthma, 4.5% from atopic asthma. Smokers had statistically significant (p < 0.001) higher mean serum IgE concentrations (geometric mean 39.7 kU/l) than nonsmokers (27.2 kU/l), In Phadiatop positive subjects, the IgE levels were highest, with a mean of 104.3 kU/l (99.0-109.8). The SCARPOL Study (Swiss Study on Childhood Allergy and Respiratory Symptoms with respect to Air Pollution and Climate) ist based on a sample of 4470 children from 10 different areas who completed parenteral questionnaire. 35.7% of the 2879 children who underwent skin prick testing were sensitized to at least one tested aeroallergen, 22.5% to gras pollen, 12.4% to house dust mites, 11.4% to birch pollen and 6.4% to cat epithelia. 17% of the 13- to 15-year-old (8th grade) suffered from hayfever. The prevalence of asthma (ever) for the whole sample was 9%, without differences between the age groups. The lifetime prevalence of atopic dermatitis was 13% and the current prevalence 8%. The risk of eczema was higher in Swiss children than in children of immigrants, in infants with a birthweight below 2500 g, in children with a positive family history of atopic dermatitis, and in children from higher socioeconomic classes. Farm children (n = 133) living in a rural area suffer less frequently from pollinosis (2.4%) and bronchial asthma (1.6%) than children (n = 966) with no direct contact to agriculture, but living in the same area (prevalence of hayfever 18.3%, of asthma 9.1%). This figures are similar to results from former East and Western Germany and from the former USSR and Baltic areas. These large Swiss epidemiologic studies confirmed both, the high prevalence of atopy and atopic diseases, and the health impact of moderate air pollution levels and of factors associated with the 'western lifestyle'.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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