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Asthma and rhinitis in schoolchildren: the impact of allergic sensitization to aeroallergens.

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  • 1Hygiene and Preventive Medicine Institute, University of Genoa, Italy.


This study aimed to evaluate the prevalence of asthma and rhinitis in schoolchildren living in the Genoa area by using a validated questionnaire and to investigate the prevalence of sensitizations using skin prick tests. An ATS modified questionnaire was given to 781 schoolchildren (all of them aged between 11 and 14 years) resident in the Genoa area. The main outcome of the present survey demonstrates a high prevalence of sensitized children (40.7%). Asthma and rhinitis prevalences are very high, mainly concerning the lifetime diagnosis. Actual asthma prevalence is about 6%, confirming ISAAC results, but rhinitis prevalence is notably higher and there is no difference between seasonal and perennial forms. Mites are the most important cause of sensitization and pollens are more frequently the cause of polysensitization. A distinct percentage of the asthmatic children and a higher percentage of rhinitic children are nonallergic. On the other hand, about one third of the sensitized children are without symptoms: They may be considered as subjects at risk of developing clinical respiratory diseases later. In conclusion, this study shows the importance of evaluating the existence of atopy, since there are many subjects with asthma and rhinitis who are nonallergic, and subjects at risk of developing respiratory allergies may be detected.

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