Minor psychiatric disorders in mothers and asthma in children

  • Maria Beatriz Barreto do CarmoEmail author
  • Darci Neves Santos
  • Leila Denise Alves Ferreira Amorim
  • Rosemeire Leovigildo Fiaccone
  • Sergio Souza da Cunha
  • Laura Cunha Rodrigues
  • Mauricio L. Barreto



Recent studies have shown that asthma represents a major health issue not only in children of developed countries but also in urban centers in some middle-income countries. Brazil has one of the highest prevalences of asthma worldwide. Recently, interest has grown in the relationship between psychosocial factors and asthma. This article examines the relationship between maternal mental disorders and the prevalence of asthma in low-income children from an inner city area of Salvador in the state of Bahia, Brazil, and is part of the SCAALA program (Social Change, Allergy and Asthma in Latin America).

Patients and methods

A total of 1,087 children between the ages of 5 and 12 were investigated, together with their mothers. The mothers’ mental health was evaluated using the SRQ-20, an instrument for the psychiatric screening of minor psychiatric disorders (depression, anxiety and somatic complaints). The prevalence of asthma was investigated using the ISAAC survey, a standardized, validated questionnaire for asthma and other allergic diseases. Cases were defined as asthma if the patient reported having had wheezing in the previous 12 months in addition to at least one of the following: having asthma, wheezing while exercising, waking during the night because of wheezing, or having had at least four episodes of wheezing in the previous 12 months. Atopy was defined as a positive skin prick test to allergens.

Results and conclusion

The presence of minor psychiatric disorders in the mothers was significantly associated with the presence of asthma in the children, and this association was consistent with all forms of asthma, irrespective of whether it was atopic or nonatopic. Future studies should be carried out to further investigate this association and the potential biological mechanisms involved. Programs for asthma control should include strategies for stress reduction and psychological support for the families of asthmatic children.


minor psychiatric disorders mothers childhood asthma SCAALA programme 



Social changes, asthma and allergy in Latin America


International study of asthma and allergy in childhood


Self report questionnaire




Skin prick test


Generalized estimating equations


Intraclass correlation coefficient


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Copyright information

© Steinkopff Verlag Darmstadt 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Maria Beatriz Barreto do Carmo
    • 1
    Email author
  • Darci Neves Santos
    • 1
  • Leila Denise Alves Ferreira Amorim
    • 2
  • Rosemeire Leovigildo Fiaccone
    • 2
  • Sergio Souza da Cunha
    • 1
  • Laura Cunha Rodrigues
    • 3
  • Mauricio L. Barreto
    • 1
  1. 1.Institute of Collective HealthFederal University of BahiaSalvadorBrazil
  2. 2.Dept. of Statistics, Institute of MathematicsFederal University of BahiaSalvadorBrazil
  3. 3.London School of Hygiene and Tropical MedicineLondonUK

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