We conducted clinical interviews (N = 2658) with participants randomly selected from the general populations in Sweden (Stockholm and Örebro), Finland (Helsinki), and Estonia (Narva and Saaremaa), and performed FENO (n = 1498) and skin prick tests (SPT) in 1997–2003.
The median (interquartile range) of FENO (ppb) was 15.5 (9.3) in Sweden, 15.4 (13.6) in Finland and 12.5 (9.6) in Estonia. We found the lowest median FENO values in the Estonian centres Saaremaa 13.1 (9.5) and Narva 11.8 (8.6). In the pooled population, asthma was associated with FENO ≥25 ppb, odds ratio (OR) 3.91 (95% confidence intervals: 2.29–6.32) after adjusting for SPT result, smoking, gender and study centre. A positive SPT test increased the likelihood of asthma OR 3.19 (2.02–5.11). Compared to Saaremaa, the likelihood of having asthma was higher in Helsinki OR 2.40 (1.04–6.02), Narva OR 2.45 (1.05–6.19), Örebro OR 3.38 (1.59–8.09), and Stockholm OR 5.54 (2.18–14.79).
There was a higher prevalence of asthma and allergic airway inflammation in adult general populations of Sweden and Finland compared to those of Estonia. Atopy and elevated FENO level were independently associated with an increased risk of asthma. In conclusion, the findings support the earlier west-east disparity hypothesis of allergic diseases.
Fields of Science
- 3121 General medicine, internal medicine and other clinical medicine
- Skin prick test
- EXHALED NITRIC-OXIDE
- INCREASING PREVALENCE
- COMMON ALLERGENS