This study was part of an international effort to evaluate the epidemiology of asthma and allergic diseases around the world. The aim was to assess the prevalence and severity of these disorders in Singapore schoolchildren. The international study of asthma and allergies in childhood (ISAAC) written questionnaire was administered to 6238 schoolchildren. The respondents were parents of a 6-7 year cohort (n = 2030), and schoolchildren aged 12-15 years (n = 4208). The overall cumulative and 12 month prevalence of wheezing were 22% and 12%, respectively. The prevalence of doctor diagnosed asthma was 20%. Rhinitis was reported by 44% and chronic rashes by 12%. Multiple logistic regression analysis showed that a higher prevalence of wheezing and rhinitis was associated with males, and subjects of higher socioeconomic status (based on type of housing and total family income). More severe asthma related symptoms were present in Malays and Indians than in the Chinese. Allergic disorders are common in Singapore and prevalence is comparable to some populations in the West. Demographic and socioeconomic factors appear to influence the prevalence and severity of these disorders.
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