Asthma Rates in Children ‘Stabilized’ in Late 1990s, CDC Study Finds
After increasing for twenty years, asthma rates among U.S. children "stabilized" in the late 1990s, according to a new study published in the journal Pediatrics, the Chicago Sun-Times reports. Researchers from the CDC's National Center for Health Statistics analyzed asthma statistics from several sources, including the National Health Interview Survey and the National Ambulatory Medical Care Survey, and found that the number of cases of asthma in children under age 18 rose by an average of 4.3% annually from 1980 to 1996. The rate then "leveled off" at 5.5% of children from 1997 to 2000 (Ritter, Chicago Sun-Times, 8/5). The study also found that African-American children demonstrated a "disproportionat[e]" asthma prevalence rate that increased throughout the study period. The asthma rate among Hispanic children "increased dramatically," although on average Hispanic children had fewer asthma attacks than white or African-American children. In 1985, there were 60 asthma cases per 1,000 black children, 51 cases in whites, and 31 in Hispanics. In 1999, there were 74 cases per 1,000 black children, 50 in whites, and 44 in Hispanics (AP/Minneapolis Star Tribune, 8/5). Dr. Lara Akinbami, lead author of the study, said the results are "kind of hopeful," adding that the incidence of asthma "may have plateaued." But Ron Burke of the American Lung Association of Metropolitan Chicago said, "We still don't know why asthma rates have soared over 20 years, or why they are plateauing." Dr. Ted Naureckas, a pulmonary specialist with University of Chicago Hospitals, said that whatever the reasons for the asthma trends, "it's likely to involve more than one factor" (Chicago Sun-Times, 8/5).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.