Aim: To explore the prevalence of symptoms suggestive of gastro-oesophageal reflux disease (GERD) in asthmatics and controls, and to control for the possible effect of overweight. Methods: The prevalence of GERD symptoms was assessed using a questionnaire about reflux symptoms in children with asthma (n=872, mean age 10.4 y, 65% males) compared to non-asthmatic controls (n=264, mean age 10.8 y, 48% males), and a symptom score was calculated. The association between GERD symptoms and overweight (age-adjusted BMI>25) was assessed independently. Results: A positive reflux symptom score was found in 19.7% of the asthmatics compared to 8.5% of the non-asthmatic control group (odds ratio (OR) 2.6, 95% CI 1.7–4.2). Overweight children reported GERD symptoms more frequently than children with normal weight (OR 1.8, 95% CI 1.2–2.6). Asthma and obesity remained significant predictors when analysed simultaneously by logistic regression analysis. One hundred and fifty-two children with asthma consented to an oesophageal pH study, and an abnormal pH study result (reflux index > 5.0) correlated positively with overweight (OR 4.9, 95% CI 2.2–11.0).
Conclusion: The prevalence of symptoms associated with gastro-oesophageal reflux was increased in children with asthma and in overweight children. Overweight and asthma were independently associated with GERD symptoms, and overweight did not explain the higher frequency of GERD in asthma patients.