J Korean Med Sci.  2021 May;36(19):e130. 10.3346/jkms.2021.36.e130.

Current Asthma Prevalence Using Methacholine Challenge Test in Korean Children from 2010 to 2014

  • 1Department of Pediatrics, Inha University School of Medicine, Inha University Hospital, Incheon, Korea


Most epidemiological studies depend on the subjects' response to asthma symptom questionnaires. Questionnaire-based study for childhood asthma prevalence may overestimate the true prevalence. The aim of this study was to investigate the prevalence of “Current asthma” using the International Study of Asthma and Allergies in Childhood (ISAAC) questionnaire and methacholine challenge test in Korean children.
Our survey on allergic disease included 4,791 children (age 7–12 years) from 2010 to 2014 in Korean elementary schools. Bronchial hyperresponsiveness (BHR) was defined as provocative concentration of methacholine causing a 20% fall in forced expiratory volume in one second (FEV1) (PC20) ≤ 16 mg/mL. “Current asthma symptoms” was defined as positive response to “Wheezing, current,” “Treatment, current,” or “Exercise, current.” “Current asthma” was defined when the subjects with “Current asthma symptoms” showed BHR on the methacholine challenge test or had less than 70% of predicted FEV1 value.
The prevalence of “Wheezing, ever,” “Wheezing, current,” “Diagnosis, ever,” “Treatment, current,” “Exercise, current,” and “Current asthma symptoms” was 19.6%, 6.9%, 10.0%, 3.3%, 3.5%, and 9.6%, respectively, in our cross-sectional study of Korean elementary school students. The prevalence of BHR in elementary school students was 14.5%. The prevalence of BHR in children with “Wheezing, ever,” “Wheezing, current,” “Diagnosis, ever,” “Treatment, current,” and “Exercise, current” was 22.3%, 30.5%, 22.4%, 28.8%, and 29.9%, respectively. BHR was 26.1% in those with “Current asthma symptoms.”The prevalence of “Current asthma” was 2.7%.
Our large-scale study provides 2.7% prevalence of current asthma in Korean elementary school children. Since approximately one third of the children who have “Current asthma symptoms” present BHR, both subjective and objective methods are required to accurately predict asthma in subjects with asthma symptoms.


Asthma; Prevalence; Child; Epidemiology; Questionnaires; Bronchial Hyperresponsiveness
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