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Auckland researchers lead asthma breakthrough

University of Auckland researchers lead global breakthrough in asthma and allergies

Allergic diseases, such as asthma, eczema and allergic rhinoconjunctivitis, are on the increase globally, particularly in younger children, says a study from researchers at The University of Auckland.

Results of the International Study of Asthma and Allergies in Childhood (ISAAC), led by Professor Innes Asher at The University of Auckland, are published in the renowned medical journal The Lancet today. The study compiles data from nearly 200,000 6-7 year olds in 37 countries and over 300,000 13-14 year olds in 56 countries, including developing countries such as South Africa, Brazil, Iran, and developed countries such as Canada, New Zealand, Sweden, and Britain.

The study suggests that prevalence of allergic disease has increased since Phase One of the study began in 1991, particularly in the 6-7 year age group, and in countries where these disorders are less common. In the older age group, prevalence of asthma symptoms in high prevalence countries like New Zealand has stayed the same or decreased, which was unexpected.

"It has been a phenomenal effort to coordinate such a large study," says Professor Innes Asher of the University's Department of Paediatrics. "The results of the study have a direct implication for public health services globally; whilst changes of annual prevalence may seem small, at around 0.5%, the effect on public health systems can be substantial, particularly in highly populated countries where increases in symptoms were commonly seen. We are delighted to find that in New Zealand, rates of asthma have not continued to increase."

ENDS

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