Author(s): Riikjrv MA, Julge K, Vasar M, Brbck L, Knutsson A
OBJECTIVES: To assess the prevalence of atopic sensitization, asthma and other respiratory disorders among Estonian schoolchildren in a coastal industrial city and an inland university town, i.e. Tallinn and Tartu. DESIGN: Prevalence surveys by self-completion of questionnaires by the children's parents and skin-prick tests (SPT) with eight common allergens. SUBJECTS: A total of 1519 schoolchildren aged 10-12 years. RESULTS: The prevalence of positive SPT was 11.0%, with significant differences between Tallinn (14.3%) and Tartu (8.1%), RR 1.89, 95% CI 1.13-2.73, P < 0.001. Dermatophagoides pteronyssinus, cat (6.1%) and timothy (4.8%) were the most prevalent sensitizing allergens in Tallinn. The prevalence of asthma diagnosed by a doctor was 2.9%, of wheezing 7.0% and of rhinoconjunctivitis 7.4%, as assessed by questionnaire. CONCLUSIONS: The prevalence of atopy as defined by a positive SPT, asthma and corresponding respiratory symptoms is low in Estonia similar to other post-socialist countries of Europe. The lower prevalence rates of allergic disorders are possibly explained with differences in lifestyle and living conditions. The relative significance of air pollution was apparently similar in Estonia and western Europe, however, as indicated by the higher prevalence of sensitization in the more polluted city, Tallinn than in Tartu.