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Allergies and Atopic Diseases

In the course of their lives, more than 20% of children and 30% of adults will suffer from at least one allergic illness. In children, boys are more frequently affected than girls. In adulthood, this trend is reversed, with women experiencing an allergic illness more frequently than men (35% as opposed to 24%).

Allergic illnesses are associated with a significantly lower quality of life in affected persons. Allergies cause high medical costs, both directly and indirectly, due to more frequent utilisation of the health system, permanent medication and time off work.

In westernised countries, the prevalence of allergic illnesses has increased dramatically since the 1970s. In the last decade, it has remained stable at a high level. However, the prevalence of bronchial asthma, which is regarded as an atopic illness, continues to rise.

The issue of asthma and atopic illnesses therefore has high public health relevance.

Data from Health Monitoring Studies

Within the framework of the health monitoring programme, Robert Koch Institute continuously collects data on the most common allergic and atopic illnesses. These include bronchial asthma, hay fever, neurodermatitis, urticaria, contact eczema and food or insect venom allergies.

In the health monitoring studies, both adults (DEGS and children and adolescents or their parents (KiGGS) are interviewed. In addition to the information gained from interviews, data on sensitisations against common allergens is obtained in the laboratory.

Determining Prevalence and Analysing Influencing Factors

The gathered data enables the prevalence of allergic illnesses and sensitisations in the overall population to be determined. Moreover, correlations with the living conditions of the affected persons (socio-demographic factors as well as living situation and living environment) are researched. Known or suspected influencing factors such as premature birth, number of older siblings, growing up in a rural environment, breastfeeding, attendance of crèche/nursery, etc. are also investigated.

Statements on medication and general care of affected persons can also be made. The data from the health monitoring programme can be used, for example, to check the extent to which the guidelines on healthcare for asthmatics are implemented with training and written therapy or emergency plans.

Publications

Lower prevalence of atopic dermatitis and allergic sensitization among children and adolescents with a two-sided migrant background

Ernst SA, Schmitz R, Thamm M, Ellert U (2016) Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 13(3):265. doi: 10.3390/ijerph13030265

Patterns of Sensitization to Inhalant and Food Allergens - Findings from the German Health Interview and Examination Survey for Children and Adolescents

Schmitz R, Ellert U, Kalcklösch M, Dahm S, Thamm M (2013) Int Arch Allergy Immunol 162:263-270 DOI: 10.1159/000353344

Prevalence and risk factors of atopic diseases in German children and adolescents

Schmitz R, Atzpodien K, Schlaud M (2012) Pediatr Allergy Immunol 23: 716–723 doi: 10.1111/j.1399-3038.2012.01342.x.

Asthma and Sensitization Pattern in Children.

Langen U (2012) In: Allergic Diseases - Highlights in the Clinic, Mechanisms and Treatment. ISBN 978-953-51-0227-4