Poverty-associated risk factors for wheezing in the first year of life in Honduras and El Salvador

Allergol Immunopathol (Madr). Jul-Aug 2010;38(4):203-12. doi: 10.1016/j.aller.2010.01.003. Epub 2010 Mar 24.


Background: Risk factors for wheezing specifically during the first year of life have been studied in well-developed countries, but the information from developing countries is very scarce. There are no such studies focusing on factors derived from poverty. The aim of the present study was to determine if risk factors related to poverty are associated to wheezing during the first year of life in infants from Honduras and El Salvador.

Methods: A survey, using a validated questionnaire, was carried out in the metropolitan area of San Pedro Sula (Honduras) and in La Libertad (El Salvador) in centres where infants attended for a scheduled vaccination shot or a healthy child visit at 12 months of age. Fieldworkers offered questionnaires to parents and helped the illiterate when necessary. The main outcome variable was wheezing during the first year of life, as reported by parents.

Results: A total of 1047 infants in El Salvador and 780 in Honduras were included in the analysis. The prevalence of wheeze in the first year was higher in El Salvador (41.2%) than in Honduras (27.7%), as was recurrent wheezing defined as three or more episodes (18.4% vs. 11.7%). Wheezing and recurrent wheezing was associated to unpaved floor in the household (summary odds ratios for both countries 1.55, p=0.036 and 1.72, p=0.054 for any wheeze and recurrent wheezing, respectively); dust entering from streets (1.30, p=0.052 and 1.67, p=0.008); living in a heavily polluted area (1.33, p=0.037 and 1.52, p=0.033); and having mould stains on the household walls (1.36, p=0.072 and 1.76, p=0.007). Furthermore, marginal associations were found for additional person at home and use of kerosene as cooking fuel. University studies in the mother (0.34, p=0.046 and 0.32, p=0.022) and a professional occupation in the father (0.34, p=0.046 and 0.26, p=0.047) were associated to a lower risk.

Conclusions: The prevalence of wheezing and recurrent wheezing is notoriously high in El Salvador and Honduras. In those populations factors related to poverty are associated to a higher prevalence of wheezing and recurrent wheezing, whereas higher maternal education and paternal professional occupation behave as protective factors.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Air Pollutants / adverse effects
  • Dust
  • Education
  • El Salvador
  • Honduras
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Poverty*
  • Prevalence
  • Respiration Disorders / diagnosis
  • Respiration Disorders / epidemiology*
  • Respiration Disorders / physiopathology
  • Respiratory Sounds
  • Risk Factors
  • Surveys and Questionnaires


  • Air Pollutants
  • Dust