[Show abstract][Hide abstract]ABSTRACT: Asthma prevalence is increasing in adult and paediatric patients. In the present study, the association between different leisure time activities and new onset of wheezing was analysed in adolescents aged 16-18 yrs taking part in a questionnaire-based follow-up of the International Study on Asthma and Allergies in Childhood in Munich and Dresden, Germany. Of the 3,785 adolescents who took part in the follow-up (76% response), 2,910 adolescents without earlier episodes of wheezing in childhood were included in the analyses. Of these, 330 (11.3%) reported new onset of wheeze during the previous 12 months. In the bivariate analyses, exercising more than once per week or performing computer work >1 h.day(-1) were inversely related to new onset of wheeze. In contrast, visiting discotheques on a regular basis increased the risk of new onset of wheeze (12.9 versus 9.9%). The observed inverse relationship between physical activity and new onset of wheeze was not an independent effect but mediated by differences in active smoking. The association between physical activity and new onset of wheeze disappeared when active smoking was taken into account. However, the present data do not allow for determining whether smoking operated as a confounder or as an intermediate factor, i.e. whether physical activities prevented active smoking.
Full-text available · Article · Oct 2007 · European Respiratory Journal
[Show abstract][Hide abstract]ABSTRACT: Given the increasing prevalence of childhood overweight, we aimed to quantify the population burden and evaluate potential regional differences in anthropometric characteristics and prevalence of overweight in fourth graders in two German cities.
Data were analysed from a cross-sectional school-based study conducted in 1995-96 in Dresden (former East Germany) and Munich (former West Germany) as part of the International Study of Asthma and Allergies in Childhood. Height and weight of the children were measured, and the parents completed a questionnaire. 2474 children age 9-10 years provided anthropometric data. Overweight was defined based on the age-specific and gender-specific international cut-off values for body mass index.
Dresden children were on average 1.2 kg lighter and >1 cm taller than their Munich peers. The prevalence of overweight in Dresden was 15.2% in girls and 14.2% in boys compared with 24 and 22.2%, respectively, in Munich. Differences were observed between Dresden and Munich with respect to the proportion of children of non-German nationality, household smoking, breastfeeding practices, and individual dietary behaviours. Even in combination these factors were not able to explain entirely the between-city overweight differences.
A substantial proportion of pre-adolescent children in Germany is now considered overweight with marked regional differences in prevalence. Comparison of population-level factors indicate that other unmeasured determinants of overweight may be responsible for the marked differences in the prevalence of overweight.
Article · Oct 2006 · The European Journal of Public Health
[Show abstract][Hide abstract]ABSTRACT: Atopic Dermatitis (AD), hayfever and asthma are commonly summarized as atopic diseases. The spatial distribution of AD differs from that of asthma and hayfever, suggesting that AD might follow a different risk pattern than these diseases. AD can be differentiated into an allergic extrinsic form (EAD) and a non-allergic intrinsic form (IAD). Only EAD might follow the distribution and risk pattern that have been ascribed to asthma and hayfever.
To investigate the distribution and risk factor profile of AD and EAD focusing on environmental factors relating to the hygiene hypothesis.
Population-based cross-sectional study on 12,601 children aged 5-7 and 9-11 years from Dresden (Eastern Germany) and Munich (Western Germany). Information was obtained by International Study of Asthma and Allergic Childhood questionnaires, dermatological examinations and skin prick testing. AD-diagnosis ever, current AD-symptoms and visible eczema were investigated with their respective extrinsic forms.
Maternal and paternal history of AD were equally strong determinants of the child's AD status. Factors related to the hygiene hypothesis like day-care attendance and number of older siblings were not associated with a decreased risk of AD. The proportion of EAD within AD was higher in Eastern than in Western Germany. The determinants of the diseases appeared to be similar for both EAD and IAD.
There was no evidence of the hygiene hypothesis holding true for AD or EAD. AD might be a separate entity than respiratory atopic diseases. Little is known about the risk factors of AD and factors different from those of respiratory allergic diseases should be considered in future research.
Full-text available · Article · Nov 2005 · Clinical & Experimental Allergy
[Show abstract][Hide abstract]ABSTRACT: The aim of this study was to assess the pattern of use of health care services among children with asthma symptoms within the community, and assess groups at increased risk of emergency department (ED) visits or hospital admissions (HA). Using International Study of Asthma and Allergies in Childhood phase II protocol, information about asthma management and utilization of health care services was collected by parental questionnaire in a community-based random sample of 5-7- and 9-11-year-old children (n = 11,094) in Dresden and Munich. Only 11.2% of children with current wheeze did not utilize any health care facility or consultation for their asthma symptoms in the 12 months prior to survey, while 86.2%, 12.3%, and 3.6% had at least one asthma related physician's consultation, ED visits, or HA, respectively. Predictors of ED visits and HA among current wheezers were: younger age, male gender, speech-limiting wheeze, level of exposure to environmental tobacco smoke. In addition, children of low socioeconomic status were more likely to have ED visits because of their asthma. Childhood asthma is a major public health problem in Germany leading to substantial morbidity and utilization of health care services. Exposure to tobacco smoke comes out as the major modifiable risk factor related to asthma morbidity in children.
Article · May 2004 · Pediatric Allergy and Immunology
[Show abstract][Hide abstract]ABSTRACT: In a random sample of children (aged 9-11 years; n = 5629), who were studied according to the ISAAC phase II protocol, heterozygosity of the alpha1 antitrypsin (alpha1-AT) Pi genotypes MS or MZ, or low alpha1-AT plasma levels, were not associated with an increased risk of developing asthma. Asthmatics with low levels of alpha1-AT were particularly prone to develop airway hyperresponsiveness and reduced lung function.
Full-text available · Article · Apr 2004 · Archives of Disease in Childhood
[Show abstract][Hide abstract]ABSTRACT: In a random sample of children (aged 9–11 years; n = 5629), who were studied according to the ISAAC phase II protocol, heterozygosity of the α1 antitrypsin (α1-AT) Pi genotypes MS or MZ, or low α1-AT plasma levels, were not associated with an increased risk of developing asthma. Asthmatics with low levels of α1-AT were particularly prone to develop airway hyperresponsiveness and reduced lung function.
Full-text available · Article · Mar 2004 · Archives of Disease in Childhood
[Show abstract][Hide abstract]ABSTRACT: The collection of sputum for microbiological examination in young cystic fibrosis patients can be very difficult. However, a knowledge of bacterial flora colonizing the patient's airways is of paramount importance for proper antimicrobial therapy. It is also known that cystic fibrosis patients colonized by Pseudomonas species have a poorer prognosis than Pseudomonas-negative patients. Noninvasive ways of diagnosing airway inflammation that require only minimal cooperation of the patient might yield new possibilities for early detection of airway colonisation. The breath condensate method as a noninvasive diagnostic technique seems especially appropriate for use in children. Therefore, the aim of this study was to evaluate whether the breath condensate method could be used for detection of Pseudomonas species in children with cystic fibrosis. In total, 32 breath condensate and seven sputum samples were obtained from 13 cystic fibrosis patients with Pseudomonas aeruginosa- or Burkholderia cepacia-positive sputum culture (20 samples were obtained during forced expiration). PCR for combined detection of Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Stenotrophomonas maltophilia, and Burkholderia cepacia was performed. PCR results of all breath condensate samples were negative for Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Stenotrophomonas maltophilia, or Burkholderia cepacia, while all sputum sample results were positive. A minimum DNA quantity of 10 fg could be detected in dilution series of the positive control group. We conclude that the breath condensate method cannot be used as a tool for detection of Pseudomonas species.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract]ABSTRACT: The aim of the present study was to assess the management of children with asthma in the community. Community-based random samples of children aged 5-7 and 9-11 yrs in Dresden and Munich, Germany, were studied in 1995-1996 using the phase II protocol of the International Study of Asthma and Allergies in Childhood. Detailed information on the use of antiasthma drugs and accessory treatment in the past year was collected by parental questionnaire. A total of 11,094 (response rate 83%) children participated. Among children with wheeze in the last year, 36% had used bronchodilators and 19% were on regular anti-inflammatory treatment. The strongest determinant of treatment was a physician's diagnosis of asthma. Forty-seven per cent of the children with current wheeze had not been diagnosed as asthmatics and received hardly any treatment (9% bronchodilators and 2% anti-inflammatory drugs), despite an increased prevalence of severe asthma symptoms, bronchial hyperresponsiveness and atopic sensitisation compared with children without asthma symptoms. The proportion of children regularly using inhaled steroids was small (6%) among current wheezers and reached only 21% among children with diagnosed asthma and >12 wheezing attacks in the last year. Inhaled steroid use was lower in Munich than in Dresden and inversely related to the use of alternative remedies. Further efforts to improve the diagnosis and treatment of childhood asthma are needed. These should aim to increase awareness of the chronic nature of asthma and the need for treatment according to current guidelines.
Full-text available · Article · Dec 2002 · European Respiratory Journal
[Show abstract][Hide abstract]ABSTRACT: Abstract Exposure to air pollution has been estimated by various methods in epidemiological studies. Data from monitoring stations
distant from big roads reflect mainly background immissions whereas self-reports and traffic counts represent rather direct
exposure to traffic related pollutants. No study has yet tried to disentangle the associations of these two exposure components
with respiratory health. We compared the associations of background exposure to NO2 and NO2 exposure estimated by a traffic related model with the respiratory health of 5421 school children (5-7 and 9-11 years old)
who were examined as part of the International Study of Asthma and Allergies in Childhood (ISAAC) Phase II. Background NO,
levels were more strongly associated with cough in the morning than estimates derived from information on local traffic. This
result indicates that traffic-related estimates may induce exposure misclassification if they do not take time-activity-patterns
[Show abstract][Hide abstract]ABSTRACT: Exposure to environmental tobacco smoke (ETS) and other air pollutants has been associated with small decrements in lung function. The susceptibility to pollution exposure may, however, vary substantially between individuals. Children with an impaired protease-antiprotease balance may be particularly vulnerable. Therefore this study aimed to investigate the effects of ETS exposure on children with reduced levels of alpha1-antitrypsin (alpha1-AT). Random samples of school children (aged 9-11 yrs) (n=3,526) were studied according to the International Study of Asthma and Allergies in Childhood (ISAAC) phase II protocol, including parental questionnaires, pulmonary function and allergy testing. Blood samples were obtained to measure plasma levels of alpha1-AT and to genotype for pleomorphic protein inhibitor (Pi)Z and PiS alleles. Children with low levels of alpha1-AT (< or = 116 mg x dL(-1)) showed significant, albeit small decrements in baseline lung function. When exposed to ETS, pronounced decrements of pulmonary function, particularly in measures of mid- to end-expiratory flow rates, were seen in these children as compared to exposed children with normal levels of alpha1-AT. The mean levels of % predicted+/-SE in both groups were: maximum expiratory flow at 50% of vital capacity 79.4+/-7.2 versus 99.0+/-1.5, maximum expiratory flow at 25% of vital capacity 67.4+/-10.0 versus 100.3+/-2.1, maximal midexpiratory flow 73.7+/-8.6 versus 99.9+/-1.7. These findings suggest that school children with low levels of alpha1-antitrypsin are at risk of developing pronounced decrements in pulmonary function, particularly if they are exposed to environmental tobacco smoke. Parents of children with heterozygous alpha1-antitrypsin deficiency resulting in significantly reduced blood concentrations should be advised to prevent their children from being exposed to environmental tobacco smoke and dissuade them from taking up smoking.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract]ABSTRACT: Objectives: The validity of self-reports of traffic density on street of residence in cities has not been evaluated extensively yet.
Methods: This study compared traffic self-reports with exposure estimates based on traffic counts and immission measurements.
Results: Self-reports correlated well with traffic count data but less well with data from measurements of background immission.
Conclusions: As traffic counts primarily represent direct exposure to road traffic and immission concentrations primarily represent city background exposure to traffic-related pollutants, self-reports reflect direct traffic exposure more strongly than background exposure.
Article · Mar 2002 · Sozial- und Präaventivmedizin SPM
[Show abstract][Hide abstract]ABSTRACT: The validity of self-reports of traffic density on street of residence in cities has not been evaluated extensively yet.
This study compared traffic self-reports with exposure estimates based on traffic counts and emission measurements.
Self-reports correlated well with traffic count data but less well with data from measurements of background emission.
As traffic counts primarily represent direct exposure to road traffic and emission concentrations primarily represent city background exposure to traffic-related pollutants, self-reports reflect direct traffic exposure more strongly than background exposure.
Article · Feb 2002 · Sozial- und Präaventivmedizin SPM
[Show abstract][Hide abstract]ABSTRACT: Lower prevalence rates for childhood respiratory allergies have been reported in eastern Germany than in western Germany.
Because allergic phenotypes are thought to be associated with an unbalanced T(H)1/T(H)2 T cell effector response, a cross-sectional investigation was carried out as part of the German ISAAC Phase II study to determine whether T(H)1/T(H)2 capacity might have developed in different directions during the separation between the 2 parts of the country.
In a community-based random sample of 9- to 11-year-old (n = 6399) and 5- to 7-year-old (n = 6202) children in eastern and western Germany, the prevalence of atopy was assessed. Heparinized blood samples were collected from a subgroup of children stratified according to the number of older siblings. T(H)1 and T(H)2 cytokine productivity was determined after stimulation with phorbol ester plus ionomycin.
Individuals who grew up in eastern Germany had a marked bias toward T(H)0 responsiveness (>60%), regardless of whether they were atopic. In contrast, the children of western Germany, particularly when they were atopic, showed T(H)2 polarization.
This is the first epidemiologic survey to demonstrate regional differences in the T(H)1/T(H)2 response pattern and their relation to atopic disease between regions.
Article · Feb 2002 · Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology
[Show abstract][Hide abstract]ABSTRACT: To evaluate whether breast feeding is associated with prevalent overweight in pre-adolescent children.
Cross-sectional studies of 9 to 10-y-old children attending fourth grade in 1995/1996 in Dresden (n=1046) and Munich (n=1062), Germany, according to the International Study of Asthma and Allergies in Childhood (ISAAC) Phase II protocol. A comprehensive questionnaire including detailed breast feeding history was filled out by the child's parent. Height and weight were measured in a random subsample of children undergoing spirometry. Overweight was defined as body mass index > or =90th age- and sex-specific percentile of the German reference.
While the prevalence of overweight differed substantially between Dresden (girls 9.1%, boys 12.5%) and Munich (17% both), we observed a markedly lower overweight prevalence among breast fed than non-breast fed children in both cities. Controlling for age, sex and city, breast-fed children were substantially less likely to be overweight at 9-10 y (OR 0.55, 95% CI 0.41-0.74). Results were slightly attenuated after adjustment for nationality, socio-economic status, number of siblings, parental smoking (OR 0.66, 95% CI 0.52-0.87). A longer overall duration and duration of exclusive breast feeding was associated significantly with decreasing prevalence of overweight.
The results highlight the importance and possible preventive potential of early nutrition in the development of overweight in children. Both feeding behaviors acquired by the nursing infant and metabolic effects may contribute to the observed inverse association of breast feeding and overweight in children.
Full-text available · Article · Nov 2001 · International Journal of Obesity
[Show abstract][Hide abstract]ABSTRACT: To describe the use of anti-asthma drugs in children in the general population and in children with asthma using data from two large surveys in Germany.
Community-based random sample of 5-7 and 9-11-year-old children in Dresden and Munich were studied in 1995/96 by parental questionnaires using the Phase II protocol of the International Study of Asthma and Allergies in Childhood (ISAAC). A total of 11,094 children participated in the surveys (response rate 83%).
In all children, inhaled beta 2-agonists were used most frequently during the last 12 months (2.6%), followed by inhaled cromolyns (2.5%), oral beta 2-agonists (1.5%), and inhaled steroids (0.9%). Drug use was significantly higher among boys than girls and in older children compared to younger ones (P < 0.05 for both). Among children with current asthma, 47% had used inhaled beta 2-agonists, 43% inhaled cromolyns, 22% oral beta 2-agonists, and 16% inhaled steroids. Inhaled steroids were used significantly more often in Dresden (21.7%) than in Munich (11.2%) (P < 0.05).
Among anti-asthma drugs, agents used for symptomatic relief were the most frequently reported followed by inhaled anti-inflammatory agents. Most of the anti-inflammatory drugs used were SCG, which may indicate under-treatment with inhaled steroids.
Article · Jun 2001 · Pharmacoepidemiology and Drug Safety
[Show abstract][Hide abstract]ABSTRACT: Latex antigens have been found in urban air samples and in debris deposited near freeways.
We investigated whether exposure to road traffic in a large city is associated with allergic sensitization against latex in children.
A population-based sample of 2505 children aged 5 to 11 years was examined in a cross-sectional study in the city of Dresden, Germany. Specific IgE levels against latex and a panel of common aeroallergens (timothy grass, rye, birch, mugwort, Cladosporium herbarum, Dermatophagoides pteronyssinus, cat dander, and dog dander) was determined by using a fluorescence immunoassay (CAP Pharmacia). Traffic exposure was assessed by (1) parental self-report on traffic frequency and truck traffic in the street of residence, (2) traffic counts, and (3) measurements of benzene at 182 points on a 1-km(2) grid for 1 year, which were used to estimate the children's individual exposure at the home address.
Eight hundred fifty-four (34.1%) of the children were sensitized against any of the allergens, and 150 (6.0%) had specific IgE (>0.35 kU/L) against latex. The prevalence of latex sensitization was not positively associated with self-reported traffic exposure, traffic counts in the street of residence (adjusted prevalence odds ratio for >5000 vs < or =5000 cars/d, 0.7; 95% confidence interval, 0.4-1.3), or benzene exposure (adjusted prevalence odds ratio for an increase of 1 microg/m(3) air, 0.8; 95% confidence interval, 0.7-1.05).
The data suggest that exposure to road traffic is not associated with allergic sensitization to latex in children.
Article · Oct 2000 · Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology
[Show abstract][Hide abstract]ABSTRACT: Some studies suggest that the prevalence of sensitization to cockroach allergens may be higher in the United States than in Europe, but there are no comparable data from population-based studies.
To determine the prevalence of allergic sensitization to German cockroach (GCR) in German schoolchildren and to assess its clinical relevance; and to determine the exposure to the major GCR allergen Bla g 2 in non-selected homes and nurseries.
The prevalence of allergic sensitization to GCR and other allergens was determined by measurement of specific IgE and skin-prick tests in a cross-sectional study of 2993 children aged 5-11 years in Dresden, Germany. The prevalence of atopic disease was determined by questionnaire, and pulmonary function and bronchial hyperresponsiveness to hypertonic saline were measured. Bla g 2 exposure was determined on floors of 187 kitchens and 47 nurseries by a commercial sandwich ELISA.
One hundred and twenty-seven (4.2%) of the children had specific IgE (> 0.7 kU/L) against GCR. Among children with current wheeze, 8.4% were GCR-sensitized. Compared to data from the United States, the prevalence of sensitization to cockroach was similar in children without asthma (3.9%), but less frequent in asthmatic children from Dresden (6.1%). After adjustment for positive reactions to other allergens (SX1 test) no significant impact of GCR sensitization on wheeze or other symptoms and diagnoses was found. Bla g 2 was detected in 29% of the kitchens and 43% of the nurseries. None of these sites had exposure levels above the proposed threshold for causing disease of 80 ng/g dust.
The data suggest that allergic sensitization to GCR is less frequent in asthmatics from Dresden, Germany than in US cities. The data indicate that GCR sensitization is not an independent risk factor for asthma and other atopic diseases in 5-11-year-olds from this city.