Lower respiratory tract infections appear to be the most important risk factor for current asthma in subarctic schoolchildren.
Aim - The aim of this study was to identify possible risk factors for current asthma revealed by two studies in Northern Norway in 1985 and 2008 and to evaluate these factors contributing to the increased prevalence of asthma over these 23 years.
Methods - As part of the ‘Asthma and allergy study among schoolchildren in Nordland county’ we performed a case–control study (70.0% attendance) comparing 153 children with current asthma (cases) to their non‐asthmatic controls. The results from this 2008 study were compared to a similar case–control study (93.2% attendance) performed in 1985 based on 62 current asthmatics.
Results - In 1985, the most important risk factors for current asthma were repeated lower respiratory tract infections (LRTIs) with adjusted odds ratio (aOR) 52.11, together with urticaria ever and atopic disease in the family. In 2008, the most important risk factors were food allergy with aOR 7.06, LRTIs during the first three years of life with aOR 5.80 and hospitalisation caused by LRTIs.
Conclusion - In both studies, LRTI was the most important risk factor for current asthma. Whether or not LRTIs have contributed to the increased asthma prevalence in this population over 23 years remains unresolved.