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Lancet. 2002 Aug 31;360(9334):691-2.

Frequency of atopy in the Arctic in 1987 and 1998.

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Department of Epidemiology Research, Danish Epidemiology Science Centre, Statens Serum Institut, Copenhagen, Denmark.


Few studies have measured the frequency of atopy with objective measures, and most of these studies have been done in industrialised countries. We analysed serum samples from 859 15-80-year-old Greenlanders who had participated in population-based screening campaigns in 1987 and in 1998. We defined atopy as a positive result in an assay that tests for specific IgE against the eight most common inhalant allergens in one pool (grass, birch, mugwort, dog, cat, horse, Cladosporum herbarum, house dust mite). The frequency of atopy doubled between 1987 (39 [10%] of 392) and 1998 (87 [19%] of 467; risk ratio 1.88 [95% CI 1.31-2.68]). This increase was largest in 15-19-year olds, but also occurred in older people, suggesting that the risk factors responsible for the increase in atopy do not operate only in childhood.

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