Atopy and related clinical symptoms among Swiss medical students from 2007 to 2015


Abstract Background Atopic allergy is a widespread disease with increasing prevalence in the second half of the twentieth century and is most often associated with clinical symptoms, like rhinoconjunctivitis, asthma or eczema. This study explored the prevalence of atopy and polysensitization in nine cohorts of Swiss medical students during the period of 2007–2015. Furthermore, the self-reported allergic symptoms, such as rhinoconjunctivitis, asthma and eczema, among students with and without atopy were assessed. Methods Each cohort was assessed in the third study year. Students underwent an ImmunoCAP rapid test, a qualitative point-of-care test, and completed an anonymous questionnaire on age, gender and clinical symptoms including rhinoconjunctivitis, asthma and eczema. Statistical analyses assessed the overall prevalence of atopy in each group and estimated the average annual increase using a linear mixed model. We examined the frequency of occurrence of polysensitization and differences of reported symptoms among students with and without atopy. Results Data of 1513 students (mean age 22.4–23.3 years across cohorts) in nine cohorts (median cohort size 215 interquartile range IQR 193–222) were available for analysis. Test results consistent with atopy were present in 39.9% of students. Average increase of atopy over the 9 years of observation was 2.25% (95% CI 0.18–4.31%; p = 0.037). Main drivers for this increase were the ubiquitously available allergens, house dust mite, timothy grass and birch pollen. Atopy and polysensitization were more pronounced in male students: Polysensitization also increased in the observation period. The clinical symptoms, rhinoconjunctivitis, asthma and eczema were reported by 463 (76.7%) atopic and by 141 (15.5%) non-atopic students. Conclusions We observed a slight increase of atopy and polysensitization within 9 years of observation in Swiss medical students. The most frequent sensitization occurred with allergens with the highest chance of exposure. Rhinoconjunctivitis, asthma and eczema are a symptom complex associated with atopy but also found in non-atopic students. Trial registration retrospectively registered by the Cantonal Ethics Committee Zurich on 22.01.2016; Nr: 08-201

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oai:doaj.org/article:4f1f9ee1ef1d429780fcd60a7a1780d4Last time updated on 6/4/2019

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