High but stable incidence of adult-onset asthma in northern Sweden over the last decades

Petri Räisänen, Helena Backman, Linnea Hedman, Martin Andersson, Caroline Stridsman, Hannu Kankaanranta, Pinja Ilmarinen, Heidi Andersen, Päivi Piirilä, Anne Lindberg, Bo Lundbäck, Eva Rönmark

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Background The prevalence of asthma has increased both among children and adults during the latter half of the 20th century. The prevalence among adults is affected by the incidence of asthma not only in childhood but also in adulthood. Time trends in asthma incidence have been poorly studied. Aims The aim of this study was to review the incidence of adult-onset asthma from 1996 to 2006 and 2006 to 2016 and compare the risk factor patterns. Methods In the Obstructive Lung Disease in Northern Sweden (OLIN) studies, two randomly selected population-based samples in the 20–69-year age group participated in postal questionnaire surveys about asthma in 1996 (n=7104, 85%) and 2006 (n=6165, 77%). A 10-year follow-up of the two cohorts with the same validated questionnaire was performed, and 5709 and 4552 responded, respectively. Different definitions of population at risk were used in the calculations of asthma incidence. The protocol followed a study performed between 1986 and 1996 in the same area. Results The crude incidence rate of physician-diagnosed asthma was 4.4 per 1000 person-years (men 3.8, women 5.5) from 1996 to 2006, and 4.8 per 1000 person-years (men 3.7, women 6.2) from 2006 to 2016. When correcting for possible under-diagnosis at study entry, the incidence rate was 2.4 per 1000 person-years from 1996 to 2006 and 2.6 per 1000 person-years from 2006 to 2016. The incidence rates were similar across age groups. Allergic rhino-conjunctivitis was the main risk factor for incident asthma in both observation periods (risk ratio 2.4–2.6). Conclusions The incidence of adult-onset asthma has been stable over the last two decades and has remained at a similar level since the 1980s. The high incidence contributes to the increase in asthma prevalence.

Original languageEnglish
Article number00262-2021
Number of pages10
JournalErj Open Research
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2021
Publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed

Publication forum classification

  • Publication forum level 1

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine


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