Background: Few studies have looked at risk factors for asthma in African children. We aimed to identify the risk factors associated with childhood asthma in Maputo (Mozambique).
Methods: This case–control study included 199 age-matched children (100 asthmatic and 99 nonasthmatic) who attended Maputo Central Hospital between January 1999 and July 2000. We collected information concerning their familial history of atopy, birth weight, environment and breast-feeding. Detailed information about morbidity and treatment was obtained for each asthmatic child.
Results: The children were aged between 18 months and 8 years; 60% were male. The asthmatic children were hospitalized more frequently than the nonasthmatic children (P < 0.0001). Most of the asthmatic children lived in the urban area of Maputo [odd ratio (OR) = 6.73, CI = 3.1–14.0, P < 0.0001], had a parental history of asthma (OR = 26.8, CI = 10.8–68.2, P < 0.0001) or rhinitis (OR = 4, CI = 1.2–13.3, P = 0.005), had at least parent who smoked and were weaned earlier than the nonasthmatic children (OR = 2.4, CI = 1.3–4.4, P < 0.001).
Conclusion: Childhood asthma was strongly associated with a family history of asthma and rhinitis, the place of residence, having smokers as parents and early weaning from maternal breast milk. These results highlight the need to reassess the management of asthmatic children in Maputo.