April 16, 2015
1 min read

Asthma rates similar for black youth in urban, rural settings

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The prevalence for asthma was comparable among high school black students of similar socioeconomic status residing in rural and urban areas, according to study results.

“Many studies have focused on the increased prevalence and greater morbidity of asthma among both adults and children in impoverished urban areas,” Dennis R. Ownby, MD, of the department of pediatrics at the Medical College of Georgia, and colleagues wrote. “However, few studies have compared the prevalence of asthma between impoverished urban populations and populations of similar racial and socioeconomic status living outside urban areas.”

To assess asthma prevalence and morbidity among black youth, the researchers compared a cohort of black high school students (n = 7,297) across six public schools in urban Detroit against high school students (n = 2,523) at four public schools in four rural Georgia counties.

Similarities were observed in the prevalence for current diagnosis of asthma between rural (13.7%; 95% CI, 12-17.1) and urban areas (15%; 95% CI, 14.1-15.8). There were additional similarities in the prevalence for undiagnosed asthma among those in urban Detroit (8%) vs. rural Georgia (7.5%). Students with diagnosed asthma in Detroit reported more asthma symptoms, while more asthma symptoms were reported among those with undiagnosed asthma in Georgia.

Major characteristics associated with the prevalence of asthma in these urban and rural youth, according to the researchers, are the similarity in socioeconomic circumstances and reported ancestry, but not differences in population density.

“We initially found a higher prevalence of asthma in Detroit than in rural Georgia, but this appears to be the result of the larger number of whites participating in Georgia and the significantly lower prevalence of asthma in the white students,” the researchers wrote. “When the comparison was restricted to [black] high school youth, we found no significant difference in the prevalence of having diagnosed asthma, current physician-diagnosed asthma and undiagnosed asthma in urban Detroit and rural Georgia.” – by Jennifer Southall

Disclosure: Ownby reports receiving research support from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute and being on the board for the Merck Childhood Asthma Network. Please see the full study for a list of all other authors’ relevant financial disclosures.