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South African Medical Journal

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Clinical characteristics of childhood asthma

M.J. Mercer, C.H. Van Niekerk

Abstract


A prospective study was undertaken of 298 asthmatic children attending a paediatric allergy clinic in Bloemfontein. A detailed history was obtained, and skin tests were performed. Male predominance and an early age of onset were confirmed. Symptomatic allergic rhinitis was an extremely common finding. A family history of allergy was obtained in over 90% of cases. Respiratory tract infections, changes in the weather and exercise were found to be the most common asthma-inducing factors. Common allergens were grass pollen (63%) and animal danders. House-dust mite (25%) and dietary allergens (less than 20%) were relatively uncommon. The failure to recognise the symptoms of asthma in children, particularly young children, was identified as an ongoing problem.




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