Validation of a rhinitis symptom questionnaire (ISAAC core questions) in a population of Swiss school children visiting the school health services. SCARPOL-team. Swiss Study on Childhood Allergy and Respiratory Symptom with respect to Air Pollution and Climate. International Study of Asthma and Allergies in Childhood.

Institute of Social and Preventive Medicine, University of Basel, Switzerland.
Pediatric Allergy and Immunology (Impact Factor: 3.86). 06/1997; 8(2):75-82.
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT The primary aim of the study was to assess the validity of the ISAAC core questions on rhinitis in a population of Swiss school children by comparing them to skin prick test results. Second, the positive predictive value in detecting atopy among children with rhinitis symptoms was determined. Third, agreement between parental reports of hay fever and rhinitis symptoms was evaluated, since earlier Swiss prevalence surveys had exclusively relied on reported hay fever.
Two thousand nine hundred and fifty-four (81.2%) parents of 7, 10 and 14-year old children filled in an exhaustive questionnaire which included the ISAAC core questions on rhinitis. Two thousand one hundred and twenty children also underwent skin prick testing against six common aeroallergens (grass mixture, birch, mugwort, D. pteronyssinus, cat and dog dander). The analysis is restricted to children with both questionnaire data and skin prick test results.
Sensitization to any allergen was most strongly associated with reported hay fever (OR = 5.7, 95% CI 4.4-7.4), nose problems accompanied by itchy-watery eyes (OR = 4.4, 95% CI: 3.3-5.7), symptoms occurring only during pollen season (March through September) (OR = 4.9, 95% CI: 3.6-6.5) and a combination of these latter two symptoms (OR = 5.8, 95% CI: 4.1-8.1). The association was stronger for a sensitization to outdoor allergens than for indoor allergens. The specificity of the various questions was high, ranging from 77.5% to 97.6%, but the sensitivity was low (2.6% to 42.7%). The positive predictive value for atopy among children with symptoms was 63% for sneezing accompanied by itchy-watery eyes, 67% for symptoms occurring only during the pollen season and 70% for reported hay fever. However, agreement between reported rhinitis symptoms and hay fever was only moderate. About one third of the children with symptoms indicative of seasonal rhinitis did not report the label "hay fever".
We conclude from our analyses that the ISAAC core questions on rhinitis are highly specific and therefore useful in excluding atopy. In addition they have a high positive predictive value in detecting atopy among children with symptoms, but they are not helpful for detecting atopy in a general population of children (low sensitivity). To monitor time trends in the prevalence of allergic rhinitis in Switzerland, questions on rhinitis symptoms as well as on the diagnostic label "hay fever" have to be included in a questionnaire because they contain complementary information since under-diagnosis of allergic rhinitis is common.

Download full-text


Available from: Brunello Wüthrich, May 24, 2014
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Lower prevalence rates of allergic diseases in rural as compared with urban populations have been interpreted as indicating an effect of air pollution. However, little is known about other factors of the rural environment which may determine the development of atopic sensitization and related diseases. The authors tested the hypothesis that children growing up on a farm were less likely to be sensitized to common aerollergens and to suffer from allergic diseases than children living in the same villages but in nonfarming families. Three age groups of schoolchildren (6-7 years, 9-11 years, 13-15 years) living in three rural communities were included in the analyses. An exhaustive questionnaire was filled in by 1620 (86.0%) parents. A blood sample was provided by 404 (69.3%) of the 13-15 year olds to determine specific IgE antibodies against six common aeroallergens. Farming as parental occupation was reported for 307 children (19.0%). After adjustment for potential covariates such as family history of asthma and allergies, parental education, number of siblings, maternal smoking, pet ownership, indoor humidity and heating fuels, farming as parental occupation was significantly associated with lower rates of sneezing attacks during pollen season (adjusted OR 0.34, 95% CI 0.12-0.89) and atopic sensitization (adjusted OR 0.31, 95% CI 0.13-0.73) whereas the association with wheeze (adjusted OR 0.77 95% CI 0.38-1.58) and itchy skin rash (adjusted OR 0.86, 95% CI 0.49-1.50) was not statistically significant. The risk of atopic sensitization was lower in children from full-time farmers (adjusted OR 0.24, 95% CI 0.09-0.66) than from part-time farmers (adjusted OR 0.54, 95% CI 0.15-1.96). Factors directly or indirectly related to farming as parental occupation decrease the risk of children becoming atopic and developing symptoms of allergic rhinitis.
    Clinical & Experimental Allergy 02/1999; 29(1):28-34. · 4.32 Impact Factor
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: To describe the prevalence of atopic symptoms in children throughout the UK. A questionnaire survey of 12-14 year olds throughout England, Wales, Scotland, and the Scottish Islands using the international study of asthma and allergies in childhood (ISAAC) protocol. A total of 27 507 (86%) children took part. Recent rhinoconjunctivitis was reported by 18.2%, with 6.2% reporting symptoms between March and September; 16.4% reported itchy flexural rash in the past 12 months. The prevalence of atopic symptoms was higher in girls and subjects born within the UK. The prevalence of severe wheeze was highest in subjects reporting perennial rhinoconjunctivitis, as opposed to summertime only symptoms. Winter rhinoconjunctivitis was associated with severe wheeze and severe flexural rash. One or more current symptoms were reported by 47.6% of all children and 4% reported all three symptoms. In general, geographical variations were small but the prevalence of symptoms was significantly higher in Scotland and northern England. The study demonstrates the importance of atopic diseases both in their own right and in association with asthma.
    Archives of Disease in Childhood 10/1999; 81(3):225-30. DOI:10.1136/adc.81.3.225 · 2.91 Impact Factor
  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: The prevalence of atopic diseases is on the rise. Traditional lifestyles may be associated with a reduced risk of atopy. To test the hypothesis that children living on a farm have lower prevalences of atopic diseases. To identify differences in living conditions between farmers and other families which are associated with the development of atopic conditions. Cross-sectional survey among children entering school (aged 5-7 years). A written questionnaire including the ISAAC core questions and asking for exposures on a farm and elsewhere was administered to the parents. Setting: School health entry examination in two Bavarian districts with extensive farming activity. Subjects: 10 163 children. The prevalence of doctor's diagnoses and symptoms of hay fever, asthma and eczema as assessed by parental report. Farmers' children had lower prevalences of hay fever (adjusted odds ratio = 0. 52, 95% CI 0.28-0.99), asthma (0.65, 0.39-1.09), and wheeze (0.55, 0. 36-0.86) than their peers not living in an agricultural environment. The reduction in risk was stronger for children whose families were running the farm on a full-time basis as compared with families with part-time farming activity. Among farmers' children increasing exposure to livestock was related to a decreasing prevalence of atopic diseases (aOR = 0.41, 95% CI 0.23-0.74). Factors related to environmental influences on a farm such as increased exposure to bacterial compounds in stables where livestock is kept prevent the development of allergic disorders in children.
    Clinical & Experimental Allergy 03/2000; 30(2):187-93. DOI:10.1046/j.1365-2222.2000.00801.x · 4.32 Impact Factor