Differences in the prevalence of asthma and current wheeze between Jews and Arabs: Results from a national survey of schoolchildren in Israel

Tamy Shohat, Manfred S. Green, Yael Davidson, Irit Livne, Rami Tamir, Ben Zion Garty

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Background: There is evidence that the prevalence of asthma is higher in Jewish schoolchildren than in Arab schoolchildren. It is not clear to what extent other risk factors explain these differences. Objective: To evaluate whether the population group differences in the prevalence of asthma and current wheeze remain after adjustment for several potential risk factors. Methods: A national survey of 10,057 13- to 14-year-old schoolchildren was carried out in Israel in 1997. There were 7,436 Jewish children and 2,621 Arab children. Differences in the two population groups were examined while controlling for demographic and environmental factors such as: sex, parental education, parental smoking and asthma, crowding, and presence of older siblings. Results: The prevalence of asthma and current wheeze was significantly higher in Jewish children compared with Arab children. The asthma prevalence was 7.8% for Jewish children and 4.9% for Arab children (P = 0.001), and prevalence of current wheeze was 20.7 and 10.1%, respectively (P = 0.001). After adjustment for demographic and environmental factors, the prevalence of asthma and current wheeze was still increased in the Jewish population (odds ratios: 1.51; 95% confidence interval [CI] = 1.06 to 2.15; 2.15 95% CI = 1.70 to 2.73, respectively). History of asthma in parents and residence in a rural area were significant risk factors for asthma and current wheeze. In addition, the presence of less than three older siblings was a significant risk factor for asthma, and female sex, ever having pets, and maternal smoking were significantly associated with current wheeze. Conclusions: The differences between Jewish and Arab children were not explained by the studied factors. Genetic factors, different environmental exposure, and nutritional habits should be studied to further explain the differences between these populations.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)386-392
Number of pages7
JournalAnnals of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology
Volume89
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - 1 Oct 2002

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