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Factors related to under-diagnosis and under-treatment of childhood asthma in metropolitan France

Isabella Annesi-Maesano12*, Carla Sterlin123, Denis Caillaud4, Fréderic de Blay45, François Lavaud56, Denis Charpin67 and Chantal Raherisson78

Author Affiliations

1 U707, EPAR, INSERM, Paris, France

2 EPAR, UMR-s 707, UPMC Paris Sorbonnes, Paris, France

3 University of Usherbrooke, Usherbrooke, Canada

4 Service de Pneumologie et Allergologie, CHU, Clermont-Ferrand, France

5 Service de Pneumologie et Allergologie, CHU, Strasbourg, France

6 Service de Pneumologie et Allergologie, CHU, Reims, France

7 Service de Pneumologie et Allergologie, CHU, Marseilles, France

8 Service de Pneumologie et Allergologie, CHU, Bordeaux, France

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Multidisciplinary Respiratory Medicine 2012, 7:24  doi:10.1186/2049-6958-7-24

Published: 8 August 2012



Under-diagnosis and under-treatment of childhood asthma were investigated in France using data collected during the 6 Cities Study, the French contribution to the International Study of Asthma and Allergies in Childhood.


7,781 schoolchildren aged between 9 and 10 years underwent a medical visit including skin prick tests to common allergens and exercise test for Exercise-Induced Asthma (EIA) and their parents filled in a standardized questionnaire on asthma, management, treatment and potential risk factors.


903 children reported asthma (11.6%), 377 without a doctor’s diagnosis. Of the 526 participants with a diagnosis of asthma confirmed by a doctor (58.2%), 353 were treated and 76 were not treated during the year preceding the investigation despite their diagnosis. The information on the treatment was missing for the rest of individuals diagnosed with asthma (n = 97). Having a treatment was significantly associated with severe asthma and with the presence of other respiratory and allergic stigmata (atopic eczema, rhinitis, positive skin allergy tests, and EIA). In addition, having a treatment did not correspond to a good control of the disease. Similarly, children with asthma-like symptoms but without doctor-diagnosed asthma had asthma less well controlled than children with diagnosed asthma. They were also more exposed to passive smoking and traffic but had fewer pets. In contrast, diagnosed children reported more frequently a small weight at birth and a preterm birth.


In France, childhood asthma is still under-diagnosed and under-treated and environmental factors play a role in these phenomena.

Childhood asthma; Environmental factors; Management; Early life; Under-diagnosis; Under-treatment