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BMJ Open. 2012; 2(5): e001485.
Published online 2012 October 11. doi:  10.1136/bmjopen-2012-001485
PMCID: PMC3488710

Prevalence of respiratory symptoms at two time points in a population of children in Manchester—a cohort study



Although the prevalence of asthma and atopy has been noted to have increased in recent decades, patterns of asthma prevalence have, traditionally, been difficult to track. Most reports on trends in childhood asthma have been cross-sectional measuring the prevalence in cohorts of similar aged children at different time points. The aim of this paper is to report on the prevalence of symptoms in the same cohort at two separate time points.


Retrospective cohort study.


Community-based study, Central Manchester.


MANCAS1, study n=5086, participation n=2414. MANCAS2, study n=6338, participation n=1608. Children born in a hospital in Manchester within specified dates and still living or attending a school in Central Manchester were eligible for inclusion. Children on an ‘at-risk’ register or living with short-term carers were excluded.

Outcome measures

Data on respiratory symptoms were collected at two separate time points using parent completed questionnaires.


Response rate for MANCAS1 was 47.5% and 25.4% for MANCAS2. There were 801 individuals for whom a response to both studies was received. There was a significant reduction in the prevalence of night cough (29.5% vs 18.3%, McNemar <0.01) and antibiotic use for respiratory infections (9.1% vs 4.3%, McNemar <0.01) between the two study time points. The prevalence of hay fever/eczema increased (41.6% vs 46.9%, McNemar <0.01) between the two studies. There was no significant difference in the prevalence of wheeze, exercise-induced wheeze or asthma medication.


Although this report of respiratory symptom prevalence in the same population at two time points over a 7-year period shows a constant burden of asthma symptoms, there is some suggestion of variability in asthma symptom prevalence within the cohort as the children matured while the burden of allergy symptoms increased.

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