Pontifícia Universidade Católica do Rio Grande do Sul (PUCRS), Saúde da Criança, Porto Alegre, RS, Brazil; Centro Universitário da Serra Gaúcha (FSG), Educação Física, Caxias do Sul, RS, Brazil. Electronic address: [Email]
OBJECTIVE : To analyze the prevalence and impact of asthma in schoolchildren from the municipality of Caxias do Sul-RS, Brazil. METHODS : Cross-sectional observational and case-control study with children and adolescents aged 7-15 years old, from public schools in Caxias do Sul-RS. The study consisted of two phases: in Phase I the prevalence of asthma in the designated population was analyzed, investigating 1915 schoolchildren; in Phase II, quality of life, asthma control and classification (for the asthmatic group), physical activity, and school performance questionnaires were applied to 266 asthmatics and 288 controls, as well as pulmonary function tests and anthropometric measures. RESULTS : The estimated prevalence of asthma was 16.1%. In the comparison between asthmatic and non-asthmatic individuals, differences were found regarding premature birth (p<0.001) and having a diagnosis of another chronic disease at birth (p<0.001). Regarding pulmonary function, significant differences were found in the values between the groups regarding forced expiratory volume in the first second (FEV1), forced vital capacity (FEV1/FVC), and forced expiratory flow between the moments of 25% and 75% (FEF25-75%), with asthmatics showing lower values. Among the asthmatics, 133 (50.8%) did not have controlled disease. The anthropometric variables showed significant differences, with higher values found in controls regarding the waist-to-height ratio (p=0.009) and their own perception of health (p<0.001). Quality of life was lower in asthmatics in the physical well-being domain (p=0.001) and in the total score (p=0.016). The total school performance score did not show a statistically significant difference between the groups. CONCLUSIONS : The prevalence of asthma is similar to that of other industrialized urban centers and may negatively affect some domains of the schoolchildren's development.