risen year on year in recent decades, the
rates of eczema and hay fever seem to have
stabilised, and may even be falling, suggests
research published ahead of print in Thorax.
But the rates of systemic
allergic reactions, such as anaphylaxis and
those related to food have soared, the data
The research team carried
out a time trends analysis on the rates of
illness and death for allergic disorders,
They used national representative
data and information from national surveys,
consultations with primary care health practitioners,
prescriptions, hospital admissions, and deaths.
Diagnoses of allergic
rhinitis and eczema in children have trebled
over the past three decades, but the prevalence
of symptoms seems to have fallen recently.
Hospital admissions for
eczema have also stabilised since 1995, while
those for allergic rhinitis have fallen to
about 40% of their 1990 levels.
with a family doctor for hay fever rose by
260%, and for eczema by 150%, between 1971
and 1991. But once again, rates have stabilised
in the past decade, the figures indicate.
However, hospital admissions
for anaphylaxis (serious allergic reaction
in several areas of the body) have risen by
700%, those for food allergy by 500%, and
those for the skin allergy urticaria by 100%.
Rates of angio-oedema,
in which an absence of a specific protein
promotes tissue swelling, leading to difficulties
breathing, also rose by 40%.
Prescriptions for all
types of allergy have also increased since
1991, the data show.
The findings suggest
that while eczema and hay fever may have peaked,
systemic allergies may be on the increase,
say the authors.
They speculate that some
of the trends could be explained by changes
in medical practice and care, but they could
also be attributable to changes in the sources
of allergic disease.