Research Article

Prevalence of asthma and hay fever in England and Wales.

BMJ 1987; 294 doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmj.294.6567.279 (Published 31 January 1987) Cite this as: BMJ 1987;294:279
  1. D M Fleming,
  2. D L Crombie

    Abstract

    The results concerned with the prevalence of asthma and hay fever in the large surveys of morbidity in general practice in 1970-1 and 1981-2 were compared. In data standardised for age the prevalence of asthma in men increased from 11.6 to 20.5 people consulting per 1000 population (p less than 0.001) and in women from 8.8 to 15.9 per 1000 population (p less than 0.001). Similar increases were also evident in data analysed from the 19 practices contributing to both surveys. The prevalence of asthma increased in each age group examined. Increases of similar magnitude were reported for hay fever--the prevalence in men increased from 10.8 to 19.8 people consulting per 1000 population (p less than 0.001) and in women from 10.3 to 19.7 per 1000 population (p less than 0.001) and occurred in all age groups. The prevalence of acute bronchitis was reduced significantly in the age group 5-14 and increased among the elderly. The prevalence of chronic bronchitis was reduced substantially in 1981-2. The reported increased prevalence of both asthma and hay fever represented a real increase and was not accounted for by changes in diagnostic preference. Only in the age group 5-14 was there any likelihood that some of the increased prevalence of asthma might have resulted from a reduction in the prevalence of acute bronchitis.