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Med J Aust. 1998 May 4;168(9):434-8.

Asthma and other atopic diseases in Australian children. Australian arm of the International Study of Asthma and Allergy in Childhood.

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  • 1Department of Thoracic Medicine, Royal Children's Hospital, Melbourne.



To determine the prevalence of asthma, eczema and allergic rhinitis in Australian schoolchildren using the protocol of the International Study of Asthma and Allergy in Childhood (ISAAC).


Questionnaire-based survey.


Melbourne, Sydney, Adelaide (in winter-spring, 1993) and Perth (in winter-spring, 1994).


All children in school years 1 and 2 (ages 6-7 years) or in year 8 (ages 13-14 years), attending a random sample of 272 schools, stratified by age and city.


Parent-reported (for 6-7 year olds) or self-reported (for 13-14 year olds) symptoms of atopic disease in the previous 12 months, or ever; treatment of asthma; and country of birth.


10,914 questionnaires were completed for 6-7 year olds and 12,280 for 13-14 year olds (84% and 94% response rates, respectively). Prevalence of wheeze in the past 12 months was 24.6% for the 6-7 year olds and 29.4% for the 13-14 year olds, and, among 6-7 year olds, was significantly higher in boys (27.4%) than girls (21.7%). Children born in Australia were more likely to report current wheeze than those born elsewhere (6-7 year olds: odds ratio [OR], 1.82; 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.55-2.15; and 13-14 year olds: OR, 1.88; 95% CI, 1.68-2.11). Prevalences of current eczema and allergic rhinitis were 10.9% and 12.0%, respectively, for the 6-7 year olds, and 9.7% and 19.6%, respectively, for the 13-14 year olds. Asthma, eczema and rhinitis coexisted in 1.8% of 6-7 year olds and 2.8% of 13-14 year olds.


This study provides evidence that asthma prevalence in Australian schoolchildren is continuing to increase and is higher among Australian-born children than among those born elsewhere. Asthma, eczema and allergic rhinitis coexist to a lesser extent than expected. These results form the basis for future Australian and international comparisons.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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