Asthma and Allergic Disorders in Uganda: A Population-Based Study Across Urban and Rural Settings

Brooks W. Morgan, Trishul Siddharthan, Matthew R. Grigsby, Suzanne L. Pollard, Robert Kalyesubula, Robert A. Wise, Bruce Kirenga, William Checkley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Allergic diseases are increasing in sub-Saharan Africa, but few studies have characterized the burden among adults. Objective: We conducted a study to evaluate the prevalence and risk factors of allergic disorders in urban and rural Uganda. Methods: We present a cross-sectional analysis of enrollment data from a population-based cohort study of adults aged ≥35 years in urban and rural Uganda. Sociodemographic and both lifetime and 12-month respiratory symptoms data were collected and spirometry was conducted following standard guidelines. Results: In 1,308 adults (median age 43.8 years and 52.3% female), we found an age-adjusted prevalence of 6.8% for asthma (9.8% urban, 4.3% rural; P <.001), 11.9% for allergic rhinitis (16.4% urban, 7.8% rural; P <.001), and 8.2% for eczema (9.9% urban, 7.8% rural; P =.15). Urbanization was the primary driver of asthma, accounting for 61.4% of cases (95% confidence interval [CI] 22.0% to 83.4%), and was the strongest risk factor for any allergic illness (odds ratio [OR] = 1.87, 95% CI 1.39-2.51). Parental asthma was not associated with allergic illness. Asthma was associated with a lower forced expiratory volume in 1 second (FEV1) by 0.56 z scores (95% CI 0.33-0.80). We found a dose-response association between lower quintiles of the FEV1/forced vital capacity ratio and both hospitalization (OR = 1.77, 95% CI 1.21-2.59) and impairment in daily activities (1.65, 1.20-2.27). Conclusions: Asthma and allergic rhinitis were twice as prevalent in urban settings. Asthma was associated with greater impairment and worse lung function outcomes. We identified a high prevalence of allergic disorders in Uganda, which can be expected to increase due to urbanization and resultant exposures throughout early development.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1580-1587.e2
JournalJournal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology: In Practice
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 1 2018


  • Allergies
  • Asthma
  • Eczema
  • Epidemiology
  • Population attributable fraction
  • Rhinitis
  • Risk factors
  • Sub-Saharan Africa
  • Uganda

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy


Dive into the research topics of 'Asthma and Allergic Disorders in Uganda: A Population-Based Study Across Urban and Rural Settings'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this