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Children's Asthma Rates Drop, but Not for Poor in IL

Overall, asthma rates are dropping among youth in the U.S., but the opposite is true for country's poorest children. (iStockphoto)
Overall, asthma rates are dropping among youth in the U.S., but the opposite is true for country's poorest children. (iStockphoto)
December 31, 2015

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. - Asthma rates for most children in the U.S. appear to be on the decline, but among the country's poorest children those rates are actually rising. According to a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, researchers found what they call a "significantly increasing" trend of asthma prevalence among children who are living below the federal poverty line.

Dr. Cary Sennett is president of the non-profit Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America. He says several complex factors could be to blame for the apparent uptick in asthma rates for underprivileged children.

"Quality of the home environment, quality of the school environment that are more challenging for children in poor communities, and some of those relate directly to pollution in urban centers," says Sennett.

The report, published this week in the journal Pediatrics, looked at more than 150,000 children. In addition to those who are poor, researchers found higher rates of asthma among 10 to 17 year olds, and those living in the South.

Sennett also points to a separate report from the Asthma and Allergy Foundation, which lists Chicago as the 10th most-challenging city in the country for people living with asthma.

"One of the challenges in Chicago is the air quality," says Sennett. "The number of individuals in the Chicago metropolitan area who don't have insurance and therefore may not have access to health care is clearly another part of it."

The good news from the CDC report, however, shows overall asthma rates in children under 18 leveled out in 2009 and then started to drop just a bit in 2013 to about eight percent, down a full point from the year before.

Still, Sennett says more than 6 million children in America are living with the chronic disease. One way he suggests to help is by expanding preventative medical coverage for those who can't afford it.

"Children who are exposed to these things end up in the emergency room, they end up in the hospital," says Sennett. "The cost of preventing that is far less than the cost of the medical care associated with it."

Brandon Campbell, Public News Service - IL