Childhood asthma is a major concern because it leads to more hospital visits and a heavy economic burden. Proper management and prevention strategies for childhood asthma must be based on correct evaluation of prevalence and risk factors for its development. In Korea, nationwide studies were conducted in 1995 and 2000 on students from 68 elementary schools (age, 6-12 years) and junior high schools (age, 12-15 years) by the Korean Academy of Pediatric Allergy and Respiratory Diseases. We used the Korean version of the International Study of Asthma and Allergies in Childhood (ISAAC) written and video questionnaires at the same schools during the same period (October-November). The prevalence of asthma in junior high school children seemed to increase over 5 years. However, in elementary school children, the prevalence of asthma symptoms decreased, although the prevalence of 'diagnosis of asthma, ever' and 'treatment of asthma, last 12 months' increased. In addition, it was found that various factors, such as obesity, passive smoking, dietary habits, raising pets at home, and fever/antibiotic use during infancy were associated with childhood asthma. When prevalence of asthma in Korea was compared with that in different regions, the prevalence changes in the 6-7 years age group did not seem to be consistent between regions, whereas similar trends were observed among children aged 13-14 years. To conduct another epidemiological study to evaluate the time trend over time, a third nationwide survey is planned in 2010, and we anticipate ISAAC Phase 3 will explore recent changes in the prevalence of childhood asthma and assess its risk factors in Korean children. On the basis of accurate data on the current status of childhood asthma in 2010, we will be able to establish proper management strategies.
Keywords: Asthma, child, Korea