Inner City Won't Increase Your Asthma Risk: Poverty And Race Might, Though

First Posted: Jan 21, 2015 05:20 PM EST

Previous studies have connected urban environments to an increased risk of asthma and various other respiratory illnesses. Now, recent findings published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology take a look at those living with asthma in urban, suburban and rural areas and how they compare. 

For the study, researchers used a survey on over 23,000 children ranging from ages 6 to 17. Findings revealed that as children's family's annual income went down, the risk of having an emergency asthma attack rose. Children whose families had lower incomes also had the highest risk of being diagnosed with asthma.

As other variables were also considered, including ethnicity, geography, poverty, environment became less significant. Poverty was essentially a determining factor when it came to increased rates, while urban areas were not, essentially. 

Data revealed that close to 13 percent of inner-city children had asthma when compared to 11 percent of those living in more suburban environments.

Those of Puerto Rican descent had the highest asthma rate at 20 percent and were followed up by African-American children with 17 percent. White children were at a 10 percent rate while Hispanics and Asians held the lowest rates at 9 and 8 percent, respectively.

As far as geographic location was concerned, those in the Northeast had higher rates of asthma at about 17 percent when compared to those in western parts of the United states at 8 percent.

"Our results highlight the changing face of pediatric asthma and suggest that living in an urban area is, by itself, not a risk factor for asthma," said lead study author Corinne Keet, a pediatric allergy and asthma specialist at Johns Hopkins, in a news release. "Instead, we see that poverty and being African American or Puerto Rican are the most potent predictors of asthma risk."

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