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Curr Opin Allergy Clin Immunol. 2008 Oct;8(5):378-83. doi: 10.1097/ACI.0b013e32830fb911.

Asthma in Latin America: the dawn of a new epidemic.

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  • 1School of Medicine, Pediatric Pulmonology Division, Instituto de Pesquisas Biomédicas da PUCRS, Pontifícia Universidade Católica do Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil.



Asthma is a heterogeneous disease with high morbidity worldwide. Unlike the low prevalence of asthma and allergy found in many developing countries, especially in rural settings, its prevalence in Latin America is high. In these sites, nonatopic asthma seems to be the most common phenotype observed among school-age children. Therefore, it seems that asthma in Latin America has some particular characteristics that will be presented and discussed in this article.


The prevalence of asthma-like symptoms in childhood is high in many populations studied in Latin America with similar frequencies to those reported in more developed countries. However, the mechanisms and risk factors associated with nonatopic asthma, which is the most prevalent phenotype in this region, have been scarcely studied.


The better understanding of asthma phenotypes that prevail in Latin America and the investigation of determining factor studies may help establish new diagnostic and therapeutic approaches. These findings should affect public health policies for this new asthma epidemic through the combination of the atopic and nonatopic phenotypes. We hope that this article sheds some new light into these important and most relevant questions.

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