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The geography of asthma and atopy: after the Berlin wall came down 

The geography of asthma and atopy: after the Berlin wall came down
The geography of asthma and atopy: after the Berlin wall came down

Seif Shaheen

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date: 28 July 2021

The reunification of Germany in 1990 offered a unique opportunity to study the impact of environmental factors on the prevalence of respiratory and allergic disorders in ethnically similar populations. The authors investigated the prevalence of asthma, hay fever, atopy, and bronchial hyperresponsiveness in 9- to 11-year old children in West Germany (n = 5,030) and East Germany (n = 2,623). Parents completed a questionnaire covering sociodemographic characteristics and respiratory/allergic history. Children underwent pulmonary function tests and allergy skin prick tests. Atopic sensitization, asthma and hay fever were considerably more frequent in West German than in East German children, but bronchitis was more prevalent in East Germany than West Germany. Analysis, taking sensitization to mites, cats and pollen into account, showed that sensitization to aeroallergens was considerably more frequent in West Germany than in East Germany, potentially explaining the differences in the prevalence of asthma and hay fever between the two parts of the country.

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