Sibship size, birth order and risk of asthma and allergy: Protocol for a systematic review and meta-analysis

Daniil Lisik, Athina Ioannidou, Gregorio Milani, Sungkutu Nyassi, Saliha Selin Özuygur Ermis, Giulia C.I. Spolidoro, Emma Goksör, Göran Wennergren, Bright I. Nwaru

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Introduction The hygiene hypothesis suggests that reduced exposure to microbes might have contributed to the increase in prevalence and incidence of asthma and allergy observed during the second half of the last century. Following this proposal, several studies have investigated the role of sibship size and birth order in the development of asthma and allergic diseases, but the underlying evidence is conflicting. The objective of the present systematic review will be to identify, critically appraise and synthesise previous primary studies investigating the association of sibship size and birth order with the risk of asthma and allergic diseases. Methods and analysis The following databases will be searched: AMED, CABI, CINAHL, Embase, Google Scholar, OAIster, Open Access Theses and Dissertations, Open Grey, ProQuest Dissertations & Theses Global, PsycINFO, PubMed, SciELO, Scopus, Web of Science and WHO Global Index Medicus. Studies published up until 31 December 2020 will be eligible. There will be no restrictions by language and geographical location. Risk of bias in the included studies will be assessed using the Effective Public Health Practice Project quality assessment tool. The produced evidence will be synthesised narratively, and studies that present comparable numerical data will be included in meta-analyses using random effects model. Ethics and dissemination Only data from the published literature will be included in this systematic review. Therefore, no ethical approval is required. The final review paper will be published in a peer-reviewed journal. PROSPERO registration number CRD42020207905.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere045795
JournalBMJ Open
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - Aug 23 2021


  • allergy
  • asthma
  • eczema
  • immunology
  • paediatric dermatology
  • paediatric infectious disease & immunisation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)


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