A questionnaire study regarding airway morbidity in children and environmental factors was performed in April 1985. The parents of 5301 children, aged 6 months to 16 years, from different rural areas in mid Sweden were sent a validated questionnaire and 4990 (94%) responded. The cumulative prevalence of bronchial hyperreactivity was 9.7% and of allergic asthma 5.2%. Children living near a paper pulp plant more often had symptoms suggesting bronchial hyperreactivity (124 (13.0%), relative risk 1.3) and allergic asthma (68 (7.1%), relative risk 1.3). In children living in a damp house problem bronchial hyperreactivity was found in 76 (19.0%) (relative risk 1.9) and allergic asthma in 35 (8.7%) of the children (relative risk 1.9). Children living in a damp house with parents who smoked had the highest figures: bronchial hyperreactivity was found in 44 (23.5%) (relative risk 2.8) and allergic asthma in 22 (11.6%) (relative risk 2.5). The results indicate that various moderate environmental pollutants may act synergistically to increase bronchial hyperreactivity and allergy especially in children with a family history of allergy.
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