Poor Children Drive City's Asthma Rate
So much for poverty as an "excuse."
"...children in East Harlem are almost 13 times more likely than those on the Upper East Side to visit an emergency room because of asthma, the report said. Eighteen percent of Hispanic children and 17% of black children have been diagnosed with asthma, compared with 5% of white children."
By Sumathi Reddy and Jenny Jie Zou
One in eight New York City children has been diagnosed with asthma, with poor children nearly twice as likely to suffer from the respiratory disease, according to a report to be posted by the city health officials on Wednesday.
The report was based on a 2009 survey and is the first time the city Department of Health and Mental Hygiene has estimated the number of children with asthma. The survey of parents found that 177,000 children 12 years and youngerĂ˘€”or 13% of children in that age groupĂ˘€”had received an asthma diagnosis at some point in their lives.
"New York City's rate on average is higher, but then within the city we know the rate varies dramatically," said Thomas Matte, assistant commissioner for environmental surveillance and policy. "Our rate is really pulled up by the high rates" in poor neighborhoods, he said.
For instance, children in East Harlem are almost 13 times more likely than those on the Upper East Side to visit an emergency room because of asthma, the report said. Eighteen percent of Hispanic children and 17% of black children have been diagnosed with asthma, compared with 5% of white children.
Nationwide, the number of people with asthma continues to grow, with about one in 10 children, or 10%, having asthma in 2009, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The CDC classifies children as between the ages of 1 and 18.
Asthma has been a persistent problem in urban centers with high poverty rates.
Dr. Joshua Needleman, a pediatric pulmonologist at New York-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center, said the report confirms what doctors know. "You find asthma all over the place, but the kids in the poor areas is where you see the most burden," said Dr. Needleman, who has worked in Baltimore.
Mr. Matte noted that poor households are more likely to have potential triggers, which include pest infestations, mold and secondhand smoke.
He said having an action planĂ˘€”a set of written instruction for parents and childrenĂ˘€”is key to managing asthma. But the survey found that only one in three children taking medication for asthma had such a plan.
Child asthma hospitalization rates, which city officials have been tracking for some time, have shown decreases across the board. Still, disparities persist. Rates in the Bronx were two to three times higher than in the city's other boroughs.
Sumathi Reddy and Jenny Jie Zou
Wall Street Journal