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Allergol Immunopathol (Madr). 2004 May-Jun;32(3):100-3.

[Satellite symposium: Asthma in the World. Asthma among children in Latin America].

[Article in Spanish]

Author information

  • Departamento de Medicina Respiratoria Infantil, Universidad de Santiago de Chile, Hospital CRS El Pino, Santiago, Chile.


The prevalence of respiratory symptoms related to asthma in children from Latin America has been largely ignored. This region participated in phases I and III of the International Study of Asthma and Allergies in Childhood (ISAAC) with 17 participating centers in phase I and 78 centers in phase III. Data were obtained on asthma, rhinitis and eczema from countries and centers with markedly different climactic, cultural and environmental conditions and socioeconomic development. The results for phase I are presented herein because data from phase III are currently being revised at the ISAAC international data control center and will be officially available in the second half of 2004. Phase I provided important information on the prevalence of asthma in the participating countries and demonstrated wide variation among centers in the same country and among countries. The participating Latin American countries are all developing countries and share more or less the same problems related to low socioeconomic status. Therefore, the results and figures should be analyzed within that context. The range for accumulative and current asthma symptoms in children from the Latin American countries that participated in phase I (89,000) were as follows: the prevalence of asthma ranged from 5.5% to 28% in children aged 13-14 years and from 4.1% to 26.9% in children aged 6-7 years. The prevalence of wheezing in the previous 12 months ranged from 6.6% to 27% in children aged 13-14 years and from 8.6% to 32.1% in children aged 6-7 years. The high figures for asthma in a region with a high level of gastrointestinal parasites infestation, a high burden of acute respiratory and gastrointestinal infections occurring early in life, severe environmental and hygiene problems, suggest that these factors, considered as protective in other (developed) regions of the world, do not have the same effect in this region. Furthermore, those aggressive environmental conditions acting together from very early in life might condition different asthmatic phenotypes with more severe clinical presentation in infancy (first 2 years of life), lower atopy and enhanced airways reactivity. The present study indicates that the prevalence of asthma and related symptoms in Latin America is as high and variable as described previously for industrialized or developed regions of the world and that the environmental risk factors, mainly related with poverty, could be responsible for the different clinical and functional presentations of asthma in children from developing regions.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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