Changes in atopy over a quarter of a century, based on cross sectional data at three time periods

BMJ 2005; 330 doi: (Published 19 May 2005) Cite this as: BMJ 2005;330:1187
  1. Malcolm Law (, professor1,
  2. Joan K Morris, reader1,
  3. Nicholas Wald, professor1,
  4. Christina Luczynska, honorary senior research fellow2,
  5. Peter Burney, professor2
  1. 1 Centre for Environmental and Preventive Medicine, Wolfson Institute of Preventive Medicine, Barts and The London School of Medicine and Dentistry, London EC1M 6BQ
  2. 2 Department of Public Health Sciences, Division of Primary Care and Public Health Sciences, Guy's, King's, and St Thomas' School of Medicine, Guy's Hospital, London SE1 3QD
  1. Correspondence to: Malcolm Law
  • Accepted 16 March 2005


Evidence that the prevalence of atopic diseases, including asthma and hay fever, has increased over the past 20-30 years comes mainly from questionnaire based surveys; objective measurements are limited.14 We therefore measured serological markers of atopic sensitisation in stored serum samples that had been collected from a population of men over about 25 years.

Participants, methods, and results

We used frozen (−40°C) serum samples from men aged 40-64 years who had attended the British United Provident Association (BUPA) Medical Centre, London, for a routine medical examination. An advantage of this cohort is its socioeconomic homogeneity—almost all were professionals or businessmen. We matched (by age and month of attendance) the 513 samples from men who attended during 1996-8 to samples from 513 men seen in 1981-2 and 513 seen in 1975-6. The serum samples had not previously been thawed; previous work has shown negligible decay in IgE during storage of serum.5

What is already known on this topic

The prevalence of atopic diseases is …

View Full Text

Sign in

Log in through your institution