Friday, April 10, 2015

Poverty and asthma go hand-in-hand for rural African American children, researchers says

Being poor and African American increases children's risk of developing asthma, regardless of whether they live in a rural or urban area, says a study by the Medical College of Georgia, Robert Preidt reports for Health Day. Researchers, who estimated that 60 to 70 percent of asthma risk is environmental, said the study "challenges the common belief that living in a city boosts the chances of developing the respiratory condition" and "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."

Comparing data of 7,300 students at six public high schools in Detroit with data of 2,500 students in rural Georgia, researchers said results were nearly identical, Preidt writes. In Detroit, 15 percent of students had diagnosed asthma, and 8 percent had undiagnosed asthma, while in rural Georgia, 14 percent had diagnosed asthma, and 7.5 percent undiagnosed asthma. Researchers said that more than 90 percent of the children in Detroit and more than 60 percent of the children in rural Georgia are African American.

The poverty rate in Detroit and rural Georgia is 23 percent, and about 74 percent of students qualified for free or reduced-cost lunches, Preidt writes. Overall, 10 percent of U.S. children have asthma, while 20 percent of African American children suffer from asthma. (Read more)

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