Symptoms of asthma, bronchial responsiveness and atopy in immigrants and emigrants in Europe

A Tobias, J B Soriano, S Chinn, J M Anto, J Sunyer, P Burney, European Community Resp Hlth Survey

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46 Citations (Scopus)


Migration studies on asthma may provide information on its environmental causes. The European Community Respiratory Health Survey has potential advantages due to the number of countries involved, standardized collection of information, assessment of directionality of migration, and availability of physiological data on bronchial responsiveness and atopy. Prevalence rates of symptoms associated with asthma were compared for immigrants, emigrants and nonmigrants living in centres mostly in western Europe. Similar analyses were carried out for bronchial responsiveness (provocative concentration causing a 20% fall in forced expiratory volume in one second and slope) and atopy. Medication and use of health services were also explored. Overall, 1,678 (8.6%) of 19,516 participants were immigrants in the 18 countries participating in the study, of whom 581 were emigrants from one of the participating countries. Rates of asthma symptoms were higher in immigrants (odds ratio (OR): 1.21, 95% confidence interval (CI): 1.00-1.51) and emigrants (OR: 1.31, 95% CI: 0.96-1.51) compared to nonmigrants after controlling for area, sex, age and smoking status. However, bronchial responsiveness and atopy were equally distributed between immigrants, emigrants and nonmigrants. Use of health services was observed to be similar in migrants and nonmigrants with asthma. In the European Community Respiratory Health Survey, migrants reported more asthma symptoms, but had similar bronchial responsiveness, atopy, and use of health services when compared with the nonmigrant population.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)459 - 465
Number of pages7
JournalEuropean Respiratory Journal
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2001


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