Atopic diseases among adults in Sør-Varanger community, northern Norway. An epidemiological study in an arctic area influenced by Russian industrial pollution.Eur Rev Med Pharmacol Sci 1998 Sep-Dec; 2(5-6):169-74ER
Atopic diseases are common in western industrialized countries and their prevalence appears to be increasing. The prevalence seems to be higher in the cold, northerly regions of Europe.
The aim of the study was to assess the prevalence of atopic diseases among adults in Sør-Varanger community, northern Norway, an arctic area at 70 degrees latitude north influenced by industrial pollution from smelting plants on the Kola peninsula.
PATIENTS AND METHODS
The parents of all 575 schoolchildren aged 7-12 years in Sør-Varanger community (northern Norway) received a four page questionnaire concerning home environment and symptoms of allergy. A total of 1102 adults filled in and returned the questionnaire.
25.2% of the adults reported past and/or present symptoms (prevalence) of atopic diseases, whereas 38.7% of the children reported atopic symptoms. The prevalence of eczema occurred in 15.9%, followed by allergic rhinoconjunctivitis (10.3%) and asthma (5.6%), however, a significant difference between sexes was only found for eczema (p < 0.0005). Women smoked more frequently (45.6%) than men (39.0%). Keeping of furred pets occurred in 54.3% and dampness in 3.6% of the homes.
This study indicates that the frequency of atopic diseases among adults is only two thirds of that reported in schoolchildren. Thus, the increased prevalence of atopic diseases over one generation could point towards factors associated with western lifestyle and living conditions (allergens and adjuvant factors).