Sign in Register
Posted On: 1 May 2023 10:18 am
Updated On: 1 May 2023 11:13 am

Study finds rising allergy rates among school-age children in Qatar

Vrinda Abilash
Vrinda Abilash
Discuss here!
Start a discussion
Study rising allergy rates school age children

To coincide with World Asthma Day, which falls on 2 May this year, clinical researchers from Sidra Medicine, (a member of Qatar Foundation) and Hamad Medical Corporation (HMC) have published an examination of the growing prevalence of pediatric asthma cases in Qatar; including data on the rising rates of allergic rhinitis and eczema.

What does the study say?

The study, funded by HMC and led by Professor Ibrahim Janahi, Chair of Medical Education and Division Chief of Pulmonology at Sidra Medicine, collected data from more than 6,500 participants across Qatar. This included nearly 2,650 children, split into groups aged between six to seven (6-7) years and 13-14 years, as well as 3,831 parents or guardians.

Compared to a previous study conducted by Prof. Janahi (ISAAC study), the latest study reported on prevalence rate differences over more than a decade (2005-2017) and showed a noticeable increase in diagnosed asthma (34.6% vs. 19.8%) and diagnosed eczema rates (37.4% vs. 22.5%), however this was not the case for allergic rhinitis which remained the same (30.9% vs. 30.5%).

While the overall findings of the study were found to be consistent with the upward trend found in similar studies conducted in Saudi Arabia, UAE, and Kuwait; the rates of asthma in school children were higher in Qatar. In addition, the findings of the Qatar-based study are concurrent with the increase in prevalence rates reported in other areas in the world, such as Mexico, South Africa and Bangkok, Latin America and Africa.

Asthma-friendly Schools Program in Qatar

The Ministry of Public Health's Asthma-friendly Schools Program operates throughout Qatar and helps children take advantage of the school's medical facilities. The program's primary goal is to improve the quality of life and health outcomes for children with asthma. Aimed at 6–12-year-olds who suffer from the disease, it supports the development of their coping skills and helps improve their lives.

Dr. Samer Hammoudeh, Post-Doctoral Research Scientist at Hamad Medical Corporation, one of the authors of the study, said; “Although there is no cure for asthma, with good management, people living with asthma can lead normal, active lives. The findings of this study will help inform and support our ongoing commitment to ensure we have the very latest treatments and the best services in place for children diagnosed with asthma and their parents.”

Dr. Yahya Hani, Research Specialist from the Medical Services Division at Sidra Medicine, who was also one of the authors of the study said: “Given the gap between similar studies, it is important to understand that the parameters and the methodologies for collecting the data have changed over the past decade. And although the study was not designed to explore potential reasons for the rising case numbers, it is recommended that future research focuses on looking into the various factors contributing to the cases of asthma, allergic rhinitis, and eczema in Qatar. We also hope that the findings will guide Qatar's healthcare polices and provide a foundation for preventive strategies from both the private and public sector.”

Source and cover image credit: Press Release