This study aims to describe the spectrum of allergic diseases of children and adolescents in a single allergy treatment center in Botswana for over eight years. A retrospective cross-sectional study was conducted using medical records of all patients aged 18 years or younger, seen at an allergy treatment center in Botswana. Data were presented descriptively. Χ2-test explored the association between variables.
Four hundred and seven patients with a mean age of 5.8 years (SD 4.4) at the time of presentation included 239 (58.7%) females and 365 (87.5%) black Africans. The most common diseases were asthma (n=249, 61.2%) followed by allergic rhinitis (AR) (n=232, 57.0%) and atopic dermatitis (AD) (n=165, 40.5%). One hundred and fifteen cases (46.2%) of asthmatic patients were skin prick test positive; sensitized to grass, molds, dust mites, and animal dander, in decreasing frequency, whereas those with allergic rhinitis (AR) and allergic conjunctivitis (AC) were sensitized to trees and all allergens identified in asthmatics. Concomitant asthma was diagnosed in 171 (73.7%) with AR, 71 (68.3%) with AC, 75 (45.5%) with AD and 42 (47.7%) with food allergy. The most common triggers for asthma exacerbations include upper respiratory tract infections, weather changes, and passive cigarette smoke exposure. Paternal allergy and allergic disease in grandparents predispose factors for asthma (p=0.016 and p=0.001, respectively). Paternal allergy is also predisposed to AR (p=0.007), while the maternal history of allergic disease was associated with AD (p=0.019).
The most common chronic pediatric conditions seen in our allergic disease study were asthma, allergic rhinitis, and atopic dermatitis. The most common triggers are viral upper respiratory tract infections, weather changes, and exposure to cigarette smoke, all of which are modifiable risk factors. This exploratory study lays the foundation for future interventional studies directed towards the spectrum of allergic diseases.