The validity of register data to identify children with atopic dermatitis, asthma or allergic rhinoconjunctivitis

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The rates of atopic eczema, wheezing, asthma and allergic rhinoconjunctivitis, which have been increasing in high‐income countries, appear to be stabilizing at a level of 20%‐40% of the population being affected1; however, the rates may still be increasing in low‐income countries.3 Large local variabilities in the prevalence of atopic diseases have been documented globally in the most recent report from The International Study of Asthma and Allergies in Childhood.4 The causes of the variability and changes remain unclear; both genetics and environment have been found to be influential.4
As medicine increases its need to manage populations of individuals with specific diseases to improve care and prevention at the lowest cost, large‐scale epidemiological studies using register‐based identification of subpopulations become increasingly valuable. Such studies can identify risk factors, and follow‐up on disease rates and interventions.
In a recent study, we developed methods, that is algorithms to identify children at a population level with atopic dermatitis, asthma or allergic rhinoconjunctivitis using data from public national health registers in Denmark and Sweden.2 These algorithms used information on disease‐specific dispensed prescribed medication and hospital contacts, and a criterion of repeated use of disease‐specific medication within 12 months was used to secure the specificity.2 However, sensitivity and specificity of the algorithms were not validated. Thus, this study aims to validate the algorithms.

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