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What is the lifetime risk of physician diagnosed asthma in Ontario, Canada?


Rationale — Asthma is the most common chronic respiratory disease in Canada. The estimates of risk of developing asthma may help researchers and health planners set research agendas, predict the burden of asthma on society, and target the at risk population for asthma prevention, management, and control.

Objective — To estimate the lifetime risk of physician diagnosed asthma.

Methods — All individuals aged 0-79 years living in Ontario, Canada on April 1, 1996 who had not been diagnosed with asthma were followed for 11 years till March 31, 2007. They were censored when they were diagnosed with asthma, turned age 80 years, or died. The lifetime risk (from birth to age 79 years) of physician diagnosed asthma was calculated using a modified survival analysis technique. Results were stratified by gender, rurality, and neighbourhood income.

Measurements and Main Results — Overall, the lifetime risk of physician diagnosed asthma was 33.9%. While the overall lifetime risk was higher in females (35.0% versus 32.9%, p<0.001), the cumulative risk was higher in males in early years. The lifetime risk was higher in individuals living in urban areas (34.5% versus 30.1%, p<0.001) or low income neighbourhoods (35.0% in the lowest income quintile versus 32.2% in the highest, p<0.001).

Conclusions — Our estimated overall lifetime risk indicates that one out of every three individuals in Ontario, Canada has physician diagnosed asthma during one's lifetime.



To T, Wang C, Guan J, McLimont S, Gershon AS. Am J Respir Crit Care Med. 2010; 181(4):337-43. Epub 2009 Nov 19.

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Contributing ICES Scientists