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Volume 407: debated on Thursday 19 June 2003

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To ask the Secretary of State for Health what recent research he has carried out to establish the extent to which the incidence of hayfever can be ascribed to environmental causes. [119540]

[holding answer 16 June 2003]: The main Government agency for research into the causes of and treatments for disease is the Medical Research Council (MRC) which receives its funding from the Department of Trade and Industry via the Office for Science and Technology.The MRC spent an estimated £11.9 million in 2001–02 on its respiratory disorders portfolio. Although this does not include any specific research into hayfever, it does include work on allergies.There is no ongoing research in the Department of Health into hayfever but the Department commissioned a study on air pollution and general practitioner consultations for allergic rhinitis (hayfever) from St. George's Hospital, London, as part of its last air pollution and health research programme. The study (by Hajal

et al) was published in the American Journal of Epidemiology (volume 153, page 704) in 2001.

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what estimate he has made of the number of hayfever sufferers in each year since 1997, broken down by county; and if he will make a statement on current trends. [119541]

[holding answer 16 June 2003]: It is not possible to state the number of people who have been diagnosed as suffering from allergies that include hayfever. This is due to the fact that many people diagnose themselves, and buy remedies at their local pharmacy, or are diagnosed by their general practitioner or appropriate clinic. It is however estimated that at least 15 per cent. of the population is affected by some form of allergy.Information on the number of admissions to national health service hospitals in England between 1997–98 and 2001–02 where the primary diagnosis could be described as hayfever (allergic rhinitis due to pollen), is shown in the table.

Primary diagnosis (ICD10 J30.1) allergic rhinitis due to pollen,

finished consultant episodes (FCEs), count of finished in year

admissions, NHS hospitals,

England 1997–98 to 2001–02