Atopic sensitization has long been known to be related to asthma in children, but a new study says asthma symptoms vary according to region, rising significantly in first-world economies, according to the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine.

In a study led by Gudrun Weinmayr, PhD, Universität Ulm, Ulm, Germany, a cross-sectional study of 8- to 12-year-old children was performed with the participation of 30 study centers in 22 countries from rural Africa to urban Europe. Data were collected by parental questionnaires, skin prick tests, and measurements of allergen-specific IgE levels in serum. Economic development was assessed by gross national income per capita (GNI).

There were no correlations between prevalence rates of current wheeze and atopic sensitization, and only weak correlations of both with GNI. However, the fractions and prevalence rates of wheeze attributable to skin test reactivity correlated strongly with GNI.

The researchers concluded that the link between atopic sensitization and asthma symptoms in children differs strongly between populations and increases with economic development.

To read the abstract, click here.