Monthly Archives: April 2015

Poverty and not Urban Areas may be the reason for higher asthma rates

Asthma rates are essentially identical among black children living in Detroit and rural Georgia, researchers report.

The finding challenges the common belief that living in a city boosts the chances of developing the respiratory condition, the study authors said.

Instead, poverty may be what increases asthma risk, the study results suggested.

“The things these children have in common include high rates of poverty, asthma and being black,” corresponding study author Dr. Dennis Ownby, an allergist-immunologist at the Medical College of Georgia, said in a college news release.

In the study, the investigators analyzed data from nearly 7,300 students at six public high schools in Detroit and more than 2,500 students at four schools in rural Georgia. More than 90 percent of the children in Detroit and 60 percent of the children in rural Georgia are black, the researchers said.

About 15 percent of the students in Detroit had diagnosed asthma and another 8 percent had undiagnosed asthma. The rates were nearly 14 percent and 7.5 percent, respectively, among the students in rural Georgia, the study found.

In both locations, about 74 percent of students qualified for free or reduced-cost lunches and the poverty rate was 23 percent, according to the study published online recently in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology.

Overall, 10 percent of children in the United States have asthma, but the rate among black children is 20 percent, researchers have found.

The study authors said their findings suggest that asthma is a disease of poverty and poor housing, where children are exposed to high levels of asthma triggers such as mold, fungi, cockroaches, mice, dust mites and tobacco smoke.

It’s estimated that 30 percent to 40 percent of asthma risk is genetic and the rest is environmental, the researchers said.

Childhood Trauma May Raise Odds of Asthma

Children who experience trauma such as divorce, death of a parent or domestic violence are more likely to develop asthma than other kids, new research suggests.

“We know that young children are susceptible to numerous adverse factors that they may be exposed to in the home environment, including cigarette smoking, indoor triggers, and even, as this study shows, dysfunctional families and associated domestic violence,” said Dr. James Sublett, president of the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, in a college news release.

“It is even more important that these high-risk children are identified and cared for by experts in the management of asthma,” he said.

Researchers surveyed parents of more than 92,000 children under the age of 18. They found that about one-third of the children had experienced at least one traumatic event, most commonly “living with a parent or guardian who got divorced or separated,” study author Dr. Robyn Wing said in the news release.

“The data showed that the more adverse childhood experiences a child is exposed to, the greater the probability he or she will develop asthma,” Wing added.

One in four kids exposed to five or more types of trauma had asthma, compared to 12 percent of those who hadn’t experienced any of these traumas, the study found. It defined these traumas as domestic violence, divorce or separation of parents, living with someone who is mentally ill, living with someone who’s been in jail or prison, and death of a parent or guardian.

About two-thirds of those children in the study hadn’t experienced any of the traumas, and 17 percent had experienced one, the researchers said. The rest experienced more.

The study doesn’t prove that a traumatic event causes asthma, merely that there is an association between the two.

The study was published April 2 in the Annals of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology.