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Respir Med. 2004 May;98(5):398-403.

National prevalence of respiratory allergic disorders.

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Lungemedicinsk Afdeling, Arhus Kommunehospital, Arhus C 8000, Denmark.



Many epidemiological studies have assessed the prevalence of respiratory allergic disorders in confined geographical locations. However, no study has yet established nationally prevalence data in a uniform manner representing whole countries and, thus, enabling cross-national comparisons.


In 10 European countries, screening of random, representative samples of telephone numbers identified the target population aged 16-60. The inclusion criteria were a positive reporting of respiratory allergy to named allergens and, concomitantly, an unassisted description of appropriate symptoms. To obtain a truly representative, national prevalence of each country, the data were weighted against the actual sex and age composition.


31,065 screening interviews were performed. The nationally balanced prevalence varied significantly among the 10 countries (P<0.001) from 11.7% in Spain to 33.6% in Italy. The overall weighted prevalence for Europe was 24.4%. Comparing males and females, overall, the odds-ratio was 0.874 (P<0.001). For age intervals of 16-29, 30-49, and 50-60 years, the odds-ratios for males were 1.104 (P<0.088), 0.827 (P<0.001), and 0.658 (P<0.001), respectively. The prevalence correlated inversely with age.


Respiratory allergic disorders constitute a huge health problem in Europe, and the impact may be increasing as the prevalence is highest among young people.

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