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Allergy. 1999 Sep;54(9):926-35.

Different pattern of risk factors for atopic and nonatopic asthma among children--report from the Obstructive Lung Disease in Northern Sweden Study.

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Department of Occupational Medicine, National Institute for Working Life, Stockholm/Solna, Sweden.



A cross-sectional study was performed among 78-year-old schoolchildren during the winter of 1996 in three municipalities in the most northern province of Sweden, Norrbotten. The study was the starting point of a longitudinal study of asthma, rhinitis, eczema, and type-1 allergy, and provided data on prevalence and risk factors for these conditions. The aim of the present study was to validate the classification of asthma based on a parental questionnaire, and to examine risk factors for atopic and nonatopic asthma.


The ISAAC questionnaire with additional questions was distributed by the schools to the parents. The response rate was 97%, and 3431 completed questionnaires were returned. The children in Kiruna and Luleå were also invited to be skin tested, and 2149 (88%) were tested with 10 common airborne allergens. A structured interview was administered by pediatricians in stratified samples of the children to test the validity of the diagnosis of asthma based on the questionnaire.


After the validation study, the prevalence of "ever asthma" was estimated to be 8.0%. The specificity of the question, "Has your child been diagnosed as having asthma by a physician?", was high, >99%, while the sensitivity was around 70%. The strongest risk factor for "ever asthma" was a positive skin test (OR 3.9). Risk factors for asthma in the asthmatics who were not sensitized were family history of asthma, OR 3.6; breast-feeding less than 3 months, OR 1.8; past or present dampness at home, OR 1.8; smoking mother, OR 1.7; and male sex, OR 1.6. Among the sensitized asthmatics, only a family history of asthma was a significant risk factor (OR 3.0), while breast-feeding less than 3 months was not associated with an increased risk (OR 1.0). A synergistic effect between genetic and environmental factors was found especially in the nonatopic asthmatics; the children with a family history of asthma who had a smoking mother and past or present dampness at home had an OR for "ever asthma" of 13.


Different risk-factor patterns were found for asthma and type-1 allergy. In addition, the risk factors for atopic or allergic asthma diverged from those for nonatopic asthma.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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