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Clin Exp Allergy. 1994 Sep;24(9):826-35.

Atopic sensitization and respiratory symptoms among Polish and Swedish school children.

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Department of Paediatrics, Sundsvall Hospital, Sweden.


Allergic sensitization and symptoms from the airways in relation to air pollution were compared in 10-12-year-old school children (n = 1113) from urban Konin in central Poland and both urban and rural parts of Sundsvall in northern Sweden. The measurements included parental questionnaires, skin-prick tests and serial peak flow measurements during 2 weeks with simultaneous monitoring of outdoor air pollutants. The skin-prick test technique was validated by IgE antibody determinations. The levels of common industrial pollutants, SO2 and smoke particles were much higher in Konin than in urban Sundsvall and the levels of NO2 were similar. Various respiratory symptoms were more often reported among school children in Konin (except for wheezing and diagnosed asthma). Multiple logistic regression analyses yielded the following increased odds ratios for children in Konin as compared with the reference group (rural Sundsvall): chest tightness and breathlessness 3.48 (95% confidence interval 2.08-5.82), exercise-induced coughing attacks 3.69 (95% confidence interval 1.68-8.10), recurrent episodes of common cold 2.79 (95% confidence interval 1.53-5.09) and prolonged cough 4.89 (95% confidence interval 2.59-9.23). In contrast, as compared with rural Sundsvall, the adjusted odds ratio for a positive skin-prick test was decreased in Konin, but increased in urban Sundsvall, 0.58 (95% confidence interval 0.37-0.91) and 1.67 (95% confidence interval 1.15-2.42) respectively. The study confirms that living in urban, as compared with rural areas, is associated with an increased prevalence of respiratory symptoms and sensitization to allergens. These differences could be explained by air pollution. Respiratory symptoms were more common in a similar urban group of Polish children who were exposed to even higher levels of air pollution. These children, however, had a much lower prevalence of sensitization to allergens, as compared with the Swedish children. This indicates that differences in lifestyle and standard of living between western Europe and a former socialist country influences the prevalence of atopy.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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