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Ethnic Gap Widens for Kids' Asthma

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February 14, 2006

CHICAGO --- Fifty percent more black children than white children are hospitalized for asthma, and 25 percent more black children than white children are dying from asthma, according  to a report in the February issue of Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology.

The report described a study by Northwestern University researchers that evaluated recent trends in U.S. asthma hospitalization and death for black and white children and adults between 1980 and 2002.

Ruchi Gupta, M.D., and colleagues at the Institute for Healthcare Studies at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine and Children’s Memorial Hospital conducted the study, which found notable increases in black and white differences in asthma hospitalizations and deaths since 1980, while for adults the increase has been smaller.

The researchers noted that national efforts to improve asthma care over the past decade do not appear to have reduced the disparities between African Americans and whites.

Due to this widening gap, Gupta said, clinicians should focus on improving asthma treatment, prevention and education, especially for minorities.

“Further understanding of the reasons for these differences and strategies to eliminate them may start to close this unacceptable racial gap,” Gupta said.

While the large racial differences in asthma morbidity and mortality have prompted research on new interventions, public awareness, and health policy efforts in the past decade, a 2003 Institute of Medicine Report still identifies asthma treatment quality as one of 20 priority areas for national action.

Topics: Research