AOK Children's Report: Almost a quarter of school children are allergy sufferers
Allergies can come in many different forms and they are a very common complaint. The current AOK children's report shows that in some regions almost every fourth school child suffers from an allergy. Atopic dermatitis and hay fever are the most common allergies.
The increase in allergic diseases in the population has been reported several times in the past decades, and now the AOK Children's Report confirms the growing extent of the problem. According to the AOK Nordost, almost every fourth school child in their area is allergic. However, a decrease in allergic diseases was also observed in individual regions.
Children's report examines the extent of allergies
All in all, in 2015 in northeastern Germany "almost every fourth child aged 6 to 16 years was affected by allergies," said the AOK, citing the first results of the children's report for the Berlin, Brandenburg and Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania region, the current is created by the Northeast Health Science Institute (GeWINO). According to this, 24 percent of the children in Mecklenburg-West Pomerania, 23 percent of the children in Brandenburg and 22 percent of the children in Berlin have an allergy.
Rising disease rates outside the metropolitan areas
Surprisingly, the spread of allergies, especially outside the metropolitan areas, has increased, reports the AOK. Since 2006 the proportion of school children with allergies in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania has increased by 3.2 percent and in Brandenburg by 0.8 percent, while in Berlin the proportion has even decreased by 1.4 percent. "Over the past ten years we have seen an increase in the frequency of allergies, especially outside the metropolitan areas," emphasizes GeWINO Managing Director Professor Dr.-Ing. Thomas P. Zahn in the AOK press release. The proportion of allergy sufferers in the Brandenburg Elbe-Elster district was particularly high at 27.5 percent, while the proportion of allergic schoolchildren in Berlin-Reinickendorf, for example, was only 17.6 percent.
Atopic dermatitis and hay fever are the most common forms
The most common form of allergic diseases is neurodermatitis, followed by allergic rhinitis, the so-called hay fever, reports the AOK. For example, 11.3 percent of school children in Mecklenburg-West Pomerania, 11.1 percent of school children in Brandenburg and 9.2 percent of children in Berlin are affected by neurodermatitis. According to the AOK, 9.2 percent of school children in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, 8.8 percent in Brandenburg and 8.0 percent in Berlin suffer from hay fever. For those affected, "Allergy is a serious illness that can significantly reduce the quality of life," emphasizes Frank Michalak, CEO of AOK Nordost.
Downplaying the symptoms
To this day, for example, allergic rhinitis, which is popularly dubbed “hay fever”, is still underestimated in its dangerousness, warns Prof. Dr. med. Susanne Lauvon from Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin, who was involved in the preparation of the study. If the hay fever is not treated early enough, full-blown asthma can quickly develop, the doctor continued. Early hyposensitization in hay fever patients could reduce asthma development by 40 percent.
Lack of awareness of allergic diseases
In addition, the experts complain that in Germany there is still insufficient awareness and the necessary consideration for allergy sufferers. This is different, for example, in Sweden, where special regulations have already been enacted that prescribe air filters and prohibit fragrances in schools and hospitals. According to the AOK, the following points should also be observed when reducing the risk of illness: Reduction of tobacco smoke exposure, avoidance of unnecessary Caesarean section births, promotion of the skin barrier in infants by regular application of cream. "In addition, infants should be breastfed as far as possible until at least the 4th to 6th month of life and parents should not make unnecessary dietary restrictions in infancy," continues the AOK.
According to the AOK, the outpatient diagnoses of more than 125,000 school children between the ages of 6 and 16 with residence in Berlin, Brandenburg or Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania were evaluated by GeWINO for the first child report in 2006 and 2015. (fp)