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El 5% of children under the age of 7 in Spain have asthma, and 14% have allergies, mainly allergic rhinitis. Considering that in Spain there are about 6 million people under the age of 14, the data indicate that there are about 795.000 children with some type of allergy and 397.000 with asthma.
These are the conclusions of a new study published Archives of Bronconeumology, the journal of the Spanish Society of Pneumology and Thoracic Surgery (SEPARATE), which also shows the significant impact of the two diseases both on the quality of life and mental health of the pediatric population and on the use of health resources.
The work has been led by Luis González de Paz, health and research technician of the Eixample Primary Health Care Consortium (CAPSBE) and researcher of the IDIBAPS research group Transversal Research in Primary Care, Laura Valdesoiro, pediatrician of the Parc Taulí University Hospital and researcher at the Parc Taulí Research and Innovation Institute (I3PT), Antoni Sisó-Almirall, director of Research at CAPSBE, head of the Transversal Research Group in Primary Care at IDIBAPS and president of the Catalan Society of Family and Community Medicine, and John Bartra, head of the Allergology Service at Clínic Barcelona, researcher of the Clinical and Experimental Respiratory Immunoallergy group (IRCE) and president of the Catalan Society of Clinical Allergy and Immunology. Experts from the UPF School of Management have also collaborated in the work.
Data from more than 6.000 boys and girls
"Generally, studies on the prevalence of asthma and allergies do not include the pediatric population," he explains Gonzalez de Paz. "In this case, we not only wanted to determine the prevalence of these diseases in boys and girls, but also to see the effect they cause on their daily life and on their mental health; as well as the impact on the use of health resources".
The work has been prepared based on the National Health Survey carried out by the Ministry of Health through the National Institute of Statistics. Data were obtained from 6.297 children under the age of 14, representing a representative sample of the Spanish pediatric population.
Impact on the quality of life and mental health of children...
The study shows that the two diseases significantly affect children's day-to-day life and, therefore, condition their quality of life and mental health.
"According to the data taken from the survey, 75% of cases of children who report having a poor quality of life can be attributed to asthma, and around 70% to allergies," he adds Valdeseiro. Also, "allergy and asthma can be behind half of the cases of boys and girls who have to limit daily activities, such as playing sports or going to friends' birthday parties".
In this sense, approximately 50% of the child population that spent one day in bed due to health problems in the two weeks prior to the survey, was probably as a result of these two pathologies.
... and impact on the healthcare system
The study also highlights the impact of childhood asthma and allergies on the use of healthcare resources, whether with visits to the primary care center or specialists or with hospital admissions.
"More than 30% of all pediatric visits to specialist doctors can be attributed to problems arising from asthma or allergy, as well as 62% of hospital admissions in the case of asthma or more than 22% of visits to the emergency room in both diseases", he points out bartra.
According to the authors, the study provides a new perspective on the suffering of children with allergies or asthma and the effects they have on their social development. "The complexity and consequences for children of these diseases shows that an integrated care approach is needed, with a continuity of health care between the educational field and the care devices", he concludes Sisó-Admiral.
Cases of allergy and asthma by Autonomous Communities
Luis González-de Paz, Laura Valdesoiro-Navarrete, Josep Roma, Esther Blat-Guimerà, Jaume Benavent-Areu, Joan Bartra, Antoni Sisó-Almirall. Prevalence and Impact of Asthma and Allergy on Daily Life, Health Outcomes and Use of Healthcare Services in Children: A Population-Based Study. Archives of Bronconeumología https://doi.org/10.1016/j.arbres.2023.05.005
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