BACKGROUND: Numerous birth cohorts have been initiated in the world over the past 30 years using heterogeneous methods to assess the incidence, course and risk factors of asthma and allergies. The aim of the present work is to provide the stepwise proceedings of the development and current version of the harmonized MeDALL-Core Questionnaire (MeDALL-CQ) used prospectively in 11 European birth cohorts. METHODS: The harmonization of questions was accomplished in 4 steps: (i) collection of variables from 14 birth cohorts, (ii) consensus on questionnaire items, (iii) translation and back-translation of the harmonized English MeDALL-CQ into 8 other languages and (iv) implementation of the harmonized follow-up. RESULTS: Three harmonized MeDALL-CQs (2 for parents of children aged 4-9 and 14-18, 1 for adolescents aged 14-18) were developed and used for a harmonized follow-up assessment of 11 European birth cohorts on asthma and allergies with over 13,000 children. CONCLUSIONS: The harmonized MeDALL follow-up produced more comparable data across different cohorts and countries in Europe and will offer the possibility to verify results of former cohort analyses. Thus, MeDALL can become the starting point to stringently plan, conduct and support future common asthma and allergy research initiatives in Europe.
International Archives of Allergy and Immunology, 2014, Vol 163, Issue 3, p. 215-24