Revista Panamericana de Salud Pública
On-line version ISSN 1680-5348
Print version ISSN 1020-4989
CAMARGOS, Paulo A. M.; CASTRO, Roberta M. and FELDMAN, Juliana S.. Prevalence of symptoms related to asthma among schoolchildren in Campos Gerais, Minas Gerais, Brazil. Rev Panam Salud Publica [online]. 1999, vol.6, n.1, pp.8-15. ISSN 1680-5348. http://dx.doi.org/10.1590/S1020-49891999000600002.
Asthma is the most common chronic disease among children and adolescents, and in recent decades dramatic increases in its prevalence have been reported around the world. However, previous studies have been based on a variety of methodological approaches, making it difficult to compare the results. That situation led a group of international researchers to prepare a standardized self-administered questionnaire to carry out cooperative international studies for the International Study of Asthma and Allergies in Childhood (ISAAC). During April 1996 a cross-sectional study using the ISAAC questionnaire was performed in the city of Campos Gerais, Minas Gerais, Brazil, to determine the prevalence of wheezing and other signs and symptoms related to bronchial asthma among schoolchildren. Two medical students interviewed a randomly selected sample of 200 adolescents 1314 years old registered in public schools in the city. The sample was equally distributed by sex and age. Of the schoolchildren, 28.5% (95% CI: 22.3%35.3%) had had wheezing or whistling in the chest at some point in the past. In the preceding 12 months, 6% of them (95% CI: 3.1%10.5%) had had at least one wheezing episode. A comparison of these results with ones from larger Brazilian cities studied showed that higher prevalence rates were associated with higher population densities and greater urbanization and industrialization. These results strengthen theories supporting an association between asthma and environmental factors. From this it follows that it is necessary to deal with asthma as an important public health problem in Brazil.