Prevalence of Asthma in School Children on the Arizona-Sonora Border

J Allergy Clin Immunol Pract. 2017 Jan-Feb;5(1):114-120.e2. doi: 10.1016/j.jaip.2016.07.001. Epub 2016 Aug 17.


Background: Mexican-born children living in the United States have a lower prevalence of asthma than other US children. Although children of Mexican descent near the Arizona (AZ)-Sonora border are genetically similar, differences in environmental exposures might result in differences in asthma prevalence across this region.

Objective: The objective of this study was to determine if the prevalence of asthma and wheeze in these children varies across the AZ-Sonora border.

Methods: The International Study of Asthma and Allergy in Children written and video questionnaires were administered to 1753 adolescents from 5 middle schools: Tucson (school A), Nogales, AZ (schools B, C), and Nogales, Sonora, Mexico (schools D, E). The prevalence of asthma and symptoms was compared, with analyses in the AZ schools limited to self-identified Mexican American students.

Results: Compared with the Sonoran reference school E, the adjusted odds ratio (OR) for asthma was significantly higher in US schools A (OR 4.89, 95% confidence interval [CI] 2.72-8.80), B (OR 3.47, 95% CI 1.88-6.42), and C (OR 4.12, 95% CI 1.78-9.60). The adjusted OR for wheeze in the past year was significantly higher in schools A (OR 2.19, 95% CI 1.20-4.01) and B (OR 2.67, 95% CI 1.42-5.01) on the written questionnaire and significantly higher in A (OR 2.13, 95% CI 1.22-3.75), B (OR 1.95, 95% CI 1.07-3.53), and Sonoran school D (OR 2.34, 95% CI 1.28-4.30) on the video questionnaire compared with school E.

Conclusions: Asthma and wheeze prevalence differed significantly between schools and was higher in the United States. Environmental factors that may account for these differences could provide insight into mechanisms of protection from asthma.

Keywords: Asthma; Bacterial Load; Environment; Mexican Americans; Socioeconomic Factors; Wheezing.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Arizona / epidemiology
  • Asthma / epidemiology
  • Asthma / ethnology*
  • Child
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Environmental Exposure / adverse effects
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mexican Americans*
  • Mexico / ethnology
  • Population*
  • Prevalence
  • Risk
  • Surveys and Questionnaires