Parents urged to take part in historic asthma study

Parents urged to take part in historic asthma study

Parents of Aberdeen primary pupils are being urged to take part in a unique study that will help researchers understand more about asthma and allergies.

Next month questionnaires will be sent to schools within what was the old Aberdeen boundary area in a follow up to a study that first began 45 years ago.

The Aberdeen Schools Asthma Survey has been repeated in 1989, 1994, 1999 and 2004 since its launch in 1964 and has provided crucial information to researchers.

Dr Steve Turner, Senior Lecturer in Child Health at the University of Aberdeen and respiratory paediatrician at the Royal Aberdeen Children's Hospital, explained: "We are extremely fortunate with the Aberdeen Schools Asthma Survey because very few places in the world – if any - have data like ours that stretches back as far as 1964.

"This long running study is helping place Aberdeen at the forefront of asthma research.

"Thanks to the efforts of parents and guardians who have filled in these questionnaires we have been able to determine that there was huge rise in asthma in levels between 1964 and 1999 but this began to flatten out between 1999 and 2004.

"Now we really want to see whether asthma and allergy levels have remained static or have gone down over the past five years.

"And that's why we really hope parents will take a few minutes to fill in these forms which should come home with primary three to primary seven pupils from a number of city schools over the coming weeks.

"Some of these parents may even have had their details, when they were a child, fed into past surveys."

Information gathered will shape future studies into asthma and allergies like hayfever and eczema.

"It's really important that parents fill in the forms regardless of whether or not their child has asthma. To know how many kids have asthma we need to know how many don't," said Dr Turner.

Survey results will also help with research into obesity levels.

Dr Turner added: "We want to use the height and weight records of children from the schools targeted by the study over the years to see if obesity levels have paralleled with the rise in asthma."

The survey is always carried out in May to ensure that winter coughs and colds and summertime tree and grass pollens don't affect the outcome.

Past surveys have shown:

·         in 1964 104 out of  2,510 children or 4% had a history of asthma

·         in 1989 asthma figures were 350 children out of 3,390 or 10%

·         in 1994 it was 789 out of 4,047 or 20%

·         in 1999 it was  858 out of 3,537 or 24%

·         in 2004 it was 806 out of 3,271 or 25%

The primary schools in the old Aberdeen boundary area involved in the study are: Abbotswell; Airyhall; Ashley Road; Bramble Brae; Broomhill; Causewayend; Cornhill; Craighill; Donbank; Fernielea; Ferryhill; Seaton; Skene Square; Smithfield; St Joseph's; St Machar; St Peter's; Sunnybank; Tullos; Victoria Road; Walker Road; Westerton and Woodside.