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Eur Ann Allergy Clin Immunol. 2003 Feb;35(2):47-51.

Asthma prevalence and drug prescription in asthmatic children.

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Dept of Pediatrics, University of Padova, Italy.


A cross-sectional study was conducted on among 28,856 children aged from birth to 14 years to determine the prevalence of asthma and assess its treatment in a sample of asthmatic children. Children diagnosed with asthma were identified by a sensitive algorithm applied to the information stored in the computerized medical records between 1997 and 1998. Pediatricians then reviewed and validated the diagnosis. Specific information was obtained, after age stratification under 5 yrs and over 6 ys, from the medical records and by interview regarding their personal details and treatment of asthmatic patients. In all, 1,263 cases of asthma were identified (64% males) with a prevalence of 6.3% among males and 4% among females in under 5 year-olds, and 3.9% for males and 2.1% for females in over 6 year-olds. The prevalence of asthma diagnosed directly by the pediatrician was consequently higher among under 5 year-olds, in both genders, than among the older children. Contrary to the international guidelines, pediatricians prescribed more oral corticosteroids and nebulized short-acting beta-2 agonists for children under 5 ys olds than for over 6 year-olds (13.3% Vs 4.8% and 25% Vs 10.9%, respectively, p < 0.001). For the > or = 6 year-olds, the most commonly prescribed treatments were oral antihistamines (13.9% Vs 12.6%), inhaled corticosteroids via metered-dose inhaler (30.8% Vs 28.7%) and sodium cromoglycate (12.1% Vs 4.8%, p < 0.001).

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