Objectives: Although asthma, allergic rhinitis and eczema are among the most common chronic diseases in children worldwide, there is very limited information about the burden of these conditions in Oman. The aim of this study was to determine the prevalence and severity of symptoms of asthma, allergic rhinitis and eczema in Omani schoolchildren using the International Study of Asthma and Allergies in Childhood (ISAAC) Phase I questionnaire. Methods: An Arabic version of the ISAAC Phase I questionnaire was completed by parents of 3893 children aged 6-7 years and self-completed by 3174 children aged 13-14 years, randomly selected from a nationwide sample of public schools. Results: The prevalence rates of reported diagnoses of asthma, allergic rhinitis and eczema were higher in older children (20.7%, 10.5% and 14.4% compared with 10.5%, 7.4% and 7.5%, respectively, in young children). In young children, 277 were current wheezers and of these 40.8% had sleep-disturbing wheeze at least once a week and 45.1% had speech-limiting wheeze during the past year. Similarly, 283 older children were current wheezers, and of these 30.0% had sleep-disturbing wheeze at least once a week and 37.5% had speech-limiting wheeze during the past year. Exercise-induced wheeze was higher in older children (19.2% vs 6.9%; P < 0.001). Allergic rhinitis and eczema were also associated with significant sleep disturbance and limitation of activity in both age groups. Conclusion: Allergic conditions in Omani schoolchildren are common and associated with significant morbidity. Further research is required to identify the local risk factors for allergy to allow better understanding and management of these conditions.
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