Background Atopic diseases in children are major public health problems around the world and the prevalence is increasing. Our objective was to assess the prevalence of atopic diseases in schoolchildren in the Western Province of Sri Lanka.
Methods Children attending grade 5 in 17 schools in the Western Province of Sri Lanka were recruited to the study. Data were collected using the International Study of Asthma and Allergies in Childhood (ISAAC) questionnaire, which was filled by the parent/guardian of the selected children.
Results A total of 640 schoolchildren were recruited. Their mean age was 10 years (SD ± 0.5) and 55.9% of the study population was boys. Prevalence (95% CI) of asthma, rhinitis and eczema was 17% (13.7-20.3), 21.4% (17.8-25.1) and 5% (3.1-7.0) respectively, while 33.7% (29.6-37.9) had one or more diseases. Only the prevalence of allergic rhinitis showed a statistically significant difference between the two sexes, being more common in boys. Less than 30% of affected children's parents recognised that their child had either asthma or rhinitis, whereas a higher number of parents (54.2%) recognised that their child had eczema. Among children with asthma, 44.4% had rhinitis.
Conclusions The prevalence of atopic diseases in schoolchildren in grade 5 in the Western Province of Sri Lanka is as common as in other countries in the south Asian region. Parental recognition of these conditions was not satisfactory.
Index words: atopic diseases; allergy; asthma; rhinitis; eczema; children
Ceylon Medical Journal Vol.55, No.1 March 2010 pp.5-8