Wednesday, May 11, 2011

CDC Documents Asthma Increases - Baffled By Cause

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report for May 6 examines the incidence of asthma with data from 2001 to 2009. For all people, asthma’s prevalence in the population has increased from 7.3 percent in 2001 from 8.2 percent in 2009.

The CDC can’t account for the increase in asthma, but it does say that the different prevalence rates could be attributed to environmental exposures that are common triggers for asthma, a chronic respiratory disease. Those exposures include air pollution—indoor and outdoor---mold, tobacco smoke and pet dander. And those triggers are more prevalent in the housing and neighborhoods where the highest rates of asthma tend to cluster.

Asthma rates are steadily climbing across the country and Women’s rates were 9.7 percent compared to 7.7 percent for all adults. Children’s rate is now 9.6 percent, but among African-American children younger than 18, 17 percent have asthma.

In California, asthma prevelance is nearly 14 percent.

Richmond, California has been an asthma hot spot for a number of years and has drawn the scrutiny of many health professionals and environmental advocates. A 2009 report from the advocacy group Communities for a Better Environment surveyed Richmond residents about their health concerns and found that 17 percent of Richmond’s children had asthma—the same as the national figures for black kids just released by the CDC.

The Richmond survey also found that the rate of asthma there was positively related to the length of time a person lived in the city. While the overall prevalence was 9.1 percent, adults who had lived there for 15 years or longer had an asthma rate of 45 percent.

Contra Costa County overall has an even higher rate of childhood asthma, which affects 19 percent of kids ages 1 to 14, according to the county’s Community Health Indicators for 2010. Again, African-American kids fare worst: nearly 21 percent have asthma, compared to about 13 percent of white and Latino kids; and 14.5 percent of Asian American kids have asthma in Contra Costa County.

Alameda county’s asthma prevalence is similarly high, with 24.5 percent of kids aged 5 to 17 suffering from asthma and a lifetime prevalence for all ages of nearly 17 percent, according to The Health of Alameda County Cities and Places, a 2010 report from the county’s public health department.

In California, asthma prevelance is nearly 14 percent for adults.

Americans are suffering from asthma in record numbers, according to a study released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Nearly one in 10 children and almost one in 12 Americans of all ages now has asthma. According to the report, from 2001 to 2009 the prevalence of asthma increased among all demographic groups studied, including men, women, whites, blacks and Hispanics. Black children are most acutely affected: the study found that 17 percent of black children — nearly one in five — had a diagnosis of asthma in 2009, up from 11.4 percent, or about one in nine, in 2001.

While 7.7 percent of adults were found to have asthma, the rate was higher among women (9.7 percent) and among poor adults of both sexes (10.6 percent). Asthma costs grew to about $56 billion in 2007, up from about $53 billion in 2002, the report said, though annual deaths attributed to asthma declined to about 3,500 in 2007, from a peak of about 5,500 deaths in 1996. (Bay Citizen, 5/9/2011, NYT, 5/3/2011)

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