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Differences in allergy trends between East and West Germany and possible explanation.

At the time of the German reunification in 1990, manifestations of most allergic diseases were less prevalent in East than in West Germany. It was hypothesized that these East–West differences would diminish with lifestyle and pollution changes in East Germany. This study investigated whether changes in the prevalence of asthma, hayfever, eczema or allergic sensitization in East Germany approached the levels seen in West Germany and aimed to identify possible lifestyle or environmental factors that may influence this. Lifestyle and pollution changed significantly differently between East and West Germany. The trends in hayfever and in strong (specific IgE >3.5) sensitization against pollen, and particularly birch pollen, were steeper in East than in West Germany. The trend towards marked pollen sensitization was four times stronger in East than West Germany. Increasing numbers of only children, less single-room heating with fossil fuels and increasing importance of traffic-related pollution in East Germany partly explained these differences in time trends. Clinical & Experimental Allergy, 2010 (40) 289– 298.

Author: Krämer U, Oppermann H, Ranft U, Schäfer T, Ring J, Behrendt H

Published: 01/02/2010

Publication Type: Journal article

Publisher: Clinical and Experimental Allergy