Approximately 20% of teenagers in New York City have asthma symptoms but have not received a diagnosis, according to research published in The Journal of Urban Health. Researchers wrote that neighborhood-level variables and demographic characteristics, including race or ethnicity, affected teenagers’ risk for having undiagnosed asthma.
“Asthma, the most common pediatric chronic illness, is a significant public health concern,” Jean-Marie Bruzzese, PhD, associate professor of developmental psychology at the Columbia School of Nursing, and colleagues wrote. “When uncontrolled, asthma contributes significantly to morbidity, including reduced physical activity, lower cognitive functioning, more frequent school absences, reduced quality of life, increased risk of comorbidities and greater use of urgent health care services.”
The researchers conducted an observational study that examined 10,295 New York City teens’ reported asthma symptoms and whether they had been diagnosed with asthma.
Bruzzese and colleagues observed that 20.2% of New York City adolescents had undiagnosed asthma. According to the researchers, this was twice as high as the percentage of those who had diagnosed asthma.
Several demographic characteristics were associated with an increased risk of remaining undiagnosed, including being female (adjusted OR = 1.25; 95% CI, 1.13-1.37). Asian-American teens also had a higher risk for undiagnosed asthma compared with non-Hispanic white teens (aOR = 1.41; 95% CI, 1.01-1.95). However, a decreased risk for undiagnosed asthma was observed in blacks (aOR = 0.66; 95% CI, 0.52-0.87) and Latino teens (aOR = 0.67; 95% CI, 0.45-0.83) compared with non-Hispanic white teens.
Neighborhoods with more non-Hispanic whites were more likely to have a lower risk for undiagnosed asthma (aOR = 0.66; 95% CI, 0.43-0.95). The researchers also observed that teens were more likely to be diagnosed when they resided within a neighborhood with a health care provider shortage (aOR = 0.8; 95% CI, 0.69-0.93).
“Adolescents living in areas with a limited number of health care providers may have had access to medical services outside their immediate neighborhood, which they could access relatively easily on public transportation,” Bruzzese and colleagues wrote. “Furthermore, health care providers serving residents of poor communities may be more likely to screen their patients for asthma.” – by Katherine Bortz
Disclosures: The authors report no relevant financial disclosures.