Relationship between respiratory tract diseases declared by parents and socioeconomic and cultural factors

OBJECTIVE: To determine the association between children's respiratory diseases reported by parents and the following criteria: attendance at private or public school, parents' educational level; family per capita income; household socioeconomic class, and family ethnicity. METHODS: This retrospective descriptive study analyzed data collected from questionnaires responded by the parents of 959 schoolchildren between five to nine years old, living in the district selected for the study, in São Paulo, Brazil, over 2004. Respiratory diseases reported by parents were rhinitis, rhinosinusitis, ear infections, laryngitis, pharyngitis, pneumonia, asthma and asthma-like diseases. A chi-square test was used to evaluate the association between respiratory diseases reported by parents and family socioeconomic factors. RESULTS: Parents of children in private schools reported significantly more respiratory diseases in their children than those whose children attended public schools. More respiratory diseases were reported for children whose parents finished high school or college. There were no significant differences between respiratory diseases and per capita income, socioeconomic class or ethnicity. CONCLUSIONS: A more accurate perception about the health of children is generally associated with parents' higher education, which is also expected to ensure better living conditions. This may explain why parents with a higher level of education and whose children attended private schools reported more respiratory diseases in their children. Our findings suggest that improvement of educational level is associated with more accurate health perceptions and, consequently, better health conditions.

school health services; respiratory tract diseases; socioeconomic factors

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