Author(s): Al Frayh AR, Shakoor Z, Gad El Rab MO, Hasnain SM
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Abstract BACKGROUND: Bronchial asthma is among the most common chronic illnesses of childhood. A number of reports in the recent past suggest that the prevalence of asthma is increasing globally. OBJECTIVE: To investigate the changing prevalence of asthma in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. SUBJECTS AND METHODS: Two populations of schoolchildren between the ages of 8 and 16 years were studied using an internationally designed protocol in 1986 and 1995. The questionnaire used in these studies was very similar to the one used in the International Study of Allergy and Asthma in Childhood. A total of 2,123 school-children in 1986 (Jeddah and Riyadh) and 1,008 schoolchildren in 1995 (Hail and Gizan) were enrolled in the surveys. These cross-sectional studies of randomly selected schoolchildren were statistically analyzed using ANOVA and a Z test. RESULTS: The comparison of data between Riyadh versus Hail (inland desert dry environment) and Jeddah versus Gizan (coastal humid environment) revealed that the prevalence of asthma in the similar populations increased significantly from 8\% in 1986 to 23\% in 1995 (P < .0001). Likewise, the prevalence of allergic rhinitis also increased from 20\% to 25\% (P < .003) since 1986. However, no significant change in the prevalence of eczema (from 12\% to 13\%) was noted between 1986 and 1995. CONCLUSIONS: The study indicates that there was a significant increase in the prevalence of bronchial asthma and, to a lesser extent, in the prevalence of allergic rhinitis in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia during this 9-year period. The study also revealed increased exposure to environmental factors such as tobacco smoke and indoor animals in Saudi houses. It seems that the continuing changes in contemporary life may well have contributed to the increased prevalence of asthma in the country.
This article was published in Ann Allergy Asthma Immunol
and referenced in Family Medicine & Medical Science Research