A recent Center for Disease Control and Prevention report shows that asthma rates in U.S. kids stopped rising, with some exceptions. The exceptions include children living in poor families and those that are 10 years old or older.
As a general trend, childhood asthma rates worldwide have been climbing in the past several decades until they towered at 9.7 percent six years ago. Between 2009 and 2012, asthma prevalence remained flat. In 2013, asthma rates slipped to 1 percent from a year prior.
As of now, researchers aren’t sure whether the lack of new changes in asthma prevalence may suggest that it has reached another plateau or it marks a descending trend.
Lara Akinbami, MD, lead author of the study and researcher with the CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics in Maryland, explained that statistical data points out asthma levels leveled off in many states across the globe. This is why, the plateau observed in the U.S. may be part of a much larger picture.
Study authors said that the recent decline observed in childhood asthma rates was statistically significant. But they acknowledged that the short period taken into consideration to assess asthma trends might have influenced study results.
They also acknowledged that the data used in the study couldn’t provide them with hints on which factors may be behind the shifting trends. Dr. Akinbami believes that there may be multiple factors involved and the story may be complex.
The story with asthma is usually complex because the disease is influenced by various factors. Past studies had shown that asthma rates vary a lot depending on the child’s age, race, region, and family income.
For instance while in the last decade there was no shift in childhood asthma rates for children living in the West or Northeast, kids that live in the South or in poor households, along with U.S. kids aged above 10 years old did not benefit from a decline in asthma rates. Instead, asthma prevalence climbed in those latter groups over the same period.
By race, the gap between African American and white kids stopped widening, but Puerto Ricans saw childhood asthma rates reaching the highest levels.
Children born to poor families also so their rates rise. Experts believe that these kids are often exposed to second-hand smoke, poor air quality, dust, rats, cockroaches, and other environmental factors that can only make their asthma worse.
A Mayo clinic researcher underscored that there is a vicious cycle of poverty which can lead to obesity and rise asthma risk. Moreover, low-income children are often exposed to domestic violence which also fuels asthma prevalence in this group.
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