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Prevalence of asthma and allergic symptoms in Suzhou, China: Trends by domestic migrant status

Abstract

Rapid urbanization in developing countries, with significant rural-to-urban and between-urban areas migration, presents a natural epidemiological model to better understand population-level trends in asthma and allergy prevalance without confounding by genetic factors. This cross-sectional study, conducted November 2014 to January 2015 in Suzhou, China, investigated differences in asthma and allergic symptoms between domestic migrant residents and long-term residents and their children. Using multivariate logistic regression, the odds ratios for children in migrant families compared to those in long-term resident families in Suzhou for doctor-diagnosed asthma, pneumonia, rhinitis, and eczema were 0.56 (95% CI: 0.42.0.73), 0.60 (95% CI: 0.49, 0.72), 0.63 (95% CI:0.52, 0.77), and 0.73 (95% CI: 0.60, 0.89), respectively. While there was a lower prevalence of asthma and allergic symptoms for domestic migrants (children and parents) compared to the local population in Suzhou, migrant children had a higher asthma rate than their parents. This follows the trend of increasing asthma rates for children in the urban local population, suggesting an environmental component. Parental migration plays a role in both parental and children’s health but further investigations are needed to determine how these results may be shaped by early life exposures, lifestyle differences, and other environmental factors.

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Acknowledgements

This work was partially supported by the Health and Places Initiative, a joint project between the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and the Harvard University Graduate School of Design to explore linkages between health and the built environment, made possible by a gift from the Charoen Pokphand Group. Linyan Li was financially supported by the Jack and Elizabeth Meyer University Scholarship and the Melvin W. First Fellowship at Harvard University. We are grateful to the children and parents who participated and the cooperation of principals and teachers of the participating schools. We appreciate Dr. Zhongkui Zhu, Yu Zhou, Pengfei Lu, Chunnan Ma, and Yuwei Dai from Soochow University for their help with the field work. We also thank the China Children Home and Health project members for their inspiration to undertake this work.

Author contributions

LL designed the study, performed the field work, analyzed the data and wrote the manuscript; JDS designed the study and analytical strategies; S-jC conducted the field work, and edited the paper; GA designed the study, supervised the field activities, and designed data analytical strategies.

Funding

Funding

This work was partially supported by the Health and Places Initiative, a joint project between the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and the Harvard University Graduate School of Design to explore linkages between health and the built environment, made possible by a gift from the Charoen Pokphand Group. Linyan Li was financially supported by the Jack and Elizabeth Meyer University Scholarship and the Melvin W. First Fellowship at Harvard University.

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Correspondence to Linyan Li.

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Li, L., Spengler, J.D., Cao, SJ. et al. Prevalence of asthma and allergic symptoms in Suzhou, China: Trends by domestic migrant status. J Expo Sci Environ Epidemiol 29, 531–538 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41370-017-0007-8

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1038/s41370-017-0007-8

Keywords

  • Epidemiology
  • Child exposure/health
  • Disease

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